Elephant-Abusing Ancaster-Bound Circus at Centre of Lawsuit

PETA Is Taking U.S. Authorities to Court for Illegal 'Pay to Play' Policy That Allowed Tarzan Zerbini Circus to Export Elephants to Canada

For Immediate Release:
June 15, 2015

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Ancaster, Ont. – A lawsuit from PETA alleges that the notoriously cruel Tarzan Zerbini Circus—which is scheduled to perform as the Shrine Circus SPECTAC! 2015 in Ancaster beginning on June 19—should not have been allowed to transport elephants to Canada.

PETA is suing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) over its “pay to play” policy, which allows applicants seeking exceptions to the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) prohibitions to make a donation—in Zerbini’s case, a mere $500, or about 1/2,000th of its annual income—to an unrelated conservation organization in lieu of demonstrating that exporting or importing an endangered animal will help the species survive, as the ESA requires. The FWS issued Zerbini a three-year permit to export endangered Asian elephants to Canada, despite the circus’s history of abusing animals and endangering the public. Recent photographs show that an elephant used by Zerbini suffers from painfully cracked nails—and the circus has a record of dangerous elephant incidents, one of which was deadly.

“Dragging elephants across the border and threatening them into performing tricks does absolutely nothing to help endangered species in the wild,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA urges families to spare animals a lifetime of suffering by staying far away from this law-flouting circus, which never should have been allowed to transport elephants to Canada.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—also warns families that Zerbini has a history of exposing elephants and the public to tuberculosis, a disease found in elephants that’s highly transmissible to humans, even without direct contact. Three elephants with Zerbini were previously quarantined in Ontario and taken out of Canada after U.S. officials alerted Canadian authorities to the fact that the elephants had been in prolonged contact with a tuberculosis-positive elephant.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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“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