Ailing Elephants Traveling With Ringling Bros. Prompt PETA Call for City Intervention

Elephant Veterinary Expert Determines That Circus Is Forcing Animals With Painful Conditions to Perform

For Immediate Release:
October 9, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Denver – A veterinarian with decades of experience with elephants has concluded that two of the elephants being used by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus—Karen and Nicole—are suffering from chronic foot problems, so PETA has sent an urgent request to Alice Nightengale, the director of Denver Animal Care and Control, asking her to inspect the circus immediately and prohibit any elephants who are injured or lame from performing. Nicole and Karen both have large cracks in their toenails, which are conditions of serious concern in elephants, and photographs show that Nicole is suffering from a painful nail abscess. Allowing these two ailing elephants to perform will aggravate their conditions and could violate state and local laws.

“Arthritis and foot problems are the leading reasons why captive elephants are euthanized in the United States, yet Ringling is forcing elephants with these conditions to travel and perform painful tricks,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on Denver humane authorities to do what Ringling won’t: Pull Nicole and Karen from the show.”

Dr. Philip K. Ensley, a board-certified veterinarian who served as the associate vet for the San Diego Zoological Society for 29 years, observed Karen and Nicole last Sunday while the circus was at Denver’s Pepsi Center. Dr. Ensley also contacted Ms. Nightengale to express his expert opinion that these two elephants “should no longer be performing” since their foot lesions cannot heal if they continue to be forced to do tricks such as standing on two legs.

PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” and PETA is urging families who don’t want to support the miserable suffering of elephants such as Karen and Nicole to stay away from the circus.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind