Cole Bros. Lands Number Four Spot on PETA’s List of the Eight Worst Circuses in the U.S.

History of Beatings and Violations of Federal Law Earns Dishonor for Cruel Circus

For Immediate Release:
May 13, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

DeLand, Fla. – Step right up, ladies and gentlemen: If you want cruelty to animals and public endangerment, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—can tell you where to find it, in the form of its first-ever list of the Top Eight Worst Circuses in the U.S. DeLand-based Cole Bros. Circus—which leases animal acts from cruel, violent exhibitors and has a history of dangerous animal escapes—ranks number four on the list.

“Cole Bros.’ history is rife with neglecting endangered elephants and thumbing its nose at the laws designed to protect them,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA’s message to families is that if you care about animals or your children’s safety, you should never buy a ticket to Cole Bros. Circus or any other circus that uses animals.”

Cole Bros. paid a $15,000 penalty to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to settle charges after PETA pointed out that two of the elephants used by the circus were hundreds of pounds underweight. In 2011, the circus pleaded guilty to selling these elephants in violation of the Endangered Species Act and paid a $150,000 penalty. Because Cole Bros. no longer has an exhibitor’s license, it now leases animals from notoriously cruel exhibitors, such as Carson & Barnes Circus, and uses elephant trainer Tim Frisco, who was caught on camera beating terrified elephants with a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end—and shocking them with electric prods. The USDA has also repeatedly cited exhibitors with Cole Bros. for endangering the public, and numerous wild animals have escaped from the circus.

The circuses rounding out PETA’s list include Ringling Bros., UniverSoul Circus, Carson & Barnes Circus, Kelly Miller Circus, George Carden Circus International, the Shrine circuses, and Jordan World 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