Feds Bring Formal Complaint Against Oklahoma-Bound Circus for Animal Escapes

Carson & Barnes Cited for Denying Adequate Veterinary Care to Now-Dead Hippo and Elephant; PETA Urges Families to Steer Clear

For Immediate Release:
May 20, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Oklahoma City

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has filed a formal complaint against the notorious animal abuser Carson & Barnes Circus—which is scheduled to drag its animal acts to Oklahoma City this week and Norman next week—asserting violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). According to the USDA complaint and news reports, the circus allowed three elephants to run amok for 45 minutes in St. Charles, Missouri, last year after becoming “stressed” by circus noise—placing the public in danger and causing the animals to sustain abrasions and lacerations. The circus then allowed the public to come into dangerous contact with the elephants just weeks later in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The Altoona inspection came after PETA alerted the USDA to eyewitness reports from a previous Carson & Barnes circus appearance stating that handlers were striking the elephants with a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp hook on one end.

“Carson & Barnes has as much disregard for the public’s safety as it has for the well-being of the animals it beats into performing,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is asking families everywhere to stay away from all circuses that use animals.”

Carson & Barnes—which recently claimed the number three spot on PETA’s list of the Top Eight Worst Circuses in the U.S.—has been cited with more than 100 violations of the AWA, including for allowing Katie the pygmy hippo and Nina the elephant to languish for months, losing weight at an alarming rate, until Katie died. Nina died just months after the circus was cited for failing to provide her with adequate veterinary care. Carson & Barnes was issued an official warning in 2014 for denying animals adequate veterinary care, and in 2012, it was ordered to pay a $3,714 penalty for 10 animal-welfare violations, including endangering the public and elephants by failing to handle the elephants safely, denying elephants adequate shelter, and failing to keep facilities in good repair.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—asks caring people to avoid Carson & Barnes and all other circuses that subject animals to the abuse and isolation involved with performing.

For more information, please visit PETA’s blog.

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