D.C. Mom Settles Consumer Fraud Lawsuit Against UniverSoul

Circus Removed False Animal-Welfare Claims After Court Ruled Case Could Go to Trial

For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Washington – Today, lawyers for Washington, D.C., resident Melanie Sloan—the single mother who purchased UniverSoul Circus tickets on the basis of a misleading “Animal Rights Policy Statement” previously posted on its website—dismissed the lawsuit against the circus after the parties reached a settlement. While the terms of the confidential settlement are unknown to PETA, the organization confirmed that the circus recently removed the false statements shortly after the court ruled that Sloan’s case could proceed to trial.

In its ruling, the court noted that UniverSoul’s elephant exhibitor, Larry Carden, was cited for violating Atlanta’s cruelty-to-animals law—clearly disproving the circus’s false claim that none of its vendors has ever been cited for animal abuse while performing with UniverSoul. Carden was allegedly caught forcing an apparently fearful elephant to leave the stage by inserting a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp hook on one end—into the animal’s mouth during a UniverSoul performance in February 2015.

“This lawsuit highlighted UniverSoul’s false claims about the elephants and tigers bullied and intimidated into performing in its shows,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is putting circuses on notice that they can’t get away with misleading parents into supporting cruelty to animals.”

Sloan was represented in the case by attorneys from the PETA Foundation.

Other exhibitors who have been caught violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) while touring with UniverSoul include big-cat exhibitor Mitchel Kalmanson, who has been cited repeatedly for keeping big cats inside cramped transport cages and not letting them out to stretch their legs. Collectively, animal exhibitors used by the circus have amassed hundreds of AWA violations.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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