Elephant Escape in St. Charles Leads to $16,000 Circus Fine

PETA Urges Families to Stay Away From Circuses That Use Animals, After Carson & Barnes Fined for Endangering the Public

For Immediate Release:
June 7, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

St. Charles, Mo. – Carson & Barnes Circus—a notorious animal exhibitor that PETA has tracked for years—has agreed to pay $16,000 to settle a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over the circus’s unsafe elephant handling. The lawsuit includes a March 22, 2014, incident in St. Charles in which three elephants reportedly ran amok for 45 minutes after becoming “stressed” when employees asked the audience members to stomp on the metal bleachers and create other loud noises, placing the public in danger and causing the animals to sustain abrasions and lacerations.

“Over and over, Carson & Barnes has endangered animals and the public and received mere slaps on the wrist from federal authorities,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA’s message to families is to stay away from all animal-exploiting circuses, where abuse and lax safety standards are the norm.”

The USDA’s lawsuit also includes an April 14, 2014, incident in Altoona, Pennsylvania, in which circus handlers allowed members of the public, including a child, to come into dangerous contact with elephants.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that these incidents could have warranted a $60,000 fine had the case not been settled and that Carson & Barnes was previously fined $3,714 in 2012 for 10 violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including another elephant escape. Other recent violations include allowing a hippo and an elephant to languish for months, losing weight at an alarming rate. Both animals ultimately died.

For more information, please visit PETA’s blog.

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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