Garden Bros. Circus Barred From Using Animals After PETA Appeal

For Immediate Release:
May 14, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va.

After PETA alerted the city’s Animal Protection Unit to Garden Bros. Circus’ plans to perform with animals this weekend, officials confirmed that the circus will not be allowed to use animals. A city ordinance requires traveling animal exhibits to obtain a permit at least 30 days in advance.

“Successful circuses are switching to shows that feature only willing human performers, and that’s exactly what Garden Bros. will have to do in Norfolk,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “Every city, country, and venue that rejects animal acts helps PETA push circuses toward an animal-free future.”

In 2018, Norfolk barred Garden Bros. from using elephants and didn’t allow it to use a horse with a swollen eye. The city also blocked the circus from using animals in 2017 and from using elephants in 2016.

In 2018, officials in Massachusetts prevented Garden Bros. from using an underweight horse in performances and officials in Missouri charged handlers for holding elephants, camels, and ponies on hot asphalt without shade. In a 2017 whistleblower complaint, a former Garden Bros. employee described frequently seeing elephants with blood dripping from behind their ears and reported that a handler beat, punched, and kicked a camel after a performance. A handler was also caught repeatedly whipping a llama.

In 2020, following years of PETA pressure, Garden Bros. stopped forcing elephants to perform, but it still exploits horses, dogs, and camels.

Numerous other venues and localities across the country—including in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.—have canceled Garden Bros. shows or barred the circus from performing with animals.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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