Elephant Escape in St. Charles Leads to Fine for Royal Hanneford Circus

PETA Points to Circuses' Danger to the Public, Cruelty to Animals in Call for Families to Stay Away

For Immediate Release:
December 15, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

St. Charles, Mo. – PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notice that the Royal Hanneford Circus has agreed to pay $7,000 to settle a USDA lawsuit over unsafe elephant handling. The lawsuit stems from a March 22, 2014, incident in St. Charles in which three elephants reportedly ran amok for 45 minutes after becoming stressed when an announcer asked audience members to stomp on metal bleachers and create other loud noises—endangering the public and causing the animals to sustain abrasions and lacerations.

Carson & Barnes Circus, which provided Royal Hanneford with the elephants, was fined for the incident earlier this year. Typically, only the animal exhibitor—Carson & Barnes, in this case—is fined for such incidents. Only rarely are event producers like Royal Hanneford also held responsible.

“Royal Hanneford, Carson & Barnes, and other circuses that use animals are hotbeds of cruelty and public endangerment,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA’s message to people who care about animals or their children’s safety is to refuse to buy a ticket to any of these shameful outfits’ events.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—maintains logs of both Royal Hanneford’s and Carson & Barnes’ violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Royal Hanneford has not held a USDA license to exhibit animals since 2005, and until then, it had been repeatedly cited for failure to provide elephants with veterinary care. So now, it leases animal acts from circuses such as Carson & Barnes, whose citations include failing to notice and provide an elephant who was suffering from a recurring, painful leg condition with adequate veterinary care; failing to provide animals with adequate space and shelter; and failing to employ experienced handlers in order to protect the public from dangerous animals.

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