Group Declares That Sebring's Ban on Animal-Torture Tools Means Elephant- and Tiger-Free Show Is Required of Repeat Offender
For Immediate Release:
August 6, 2018
David Perle 202-483-7382
Sebring, Fla. – Citing Sebring’s ban on bullhooks (weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp hook at one end), whips, and any other implement used to inflict unjustifiable pain or suffering on wild or exotic animals, PETA sent a letter today urging the Highlands County Fairgrounds not to be complicit in violating the law and to require that Loomis Bros. Circus—which is slated to perform at the fairgrounds this weekend—put on a show without wild animals. PETA notes that the circus is planning to perform with elephant and tiger acts supplied by the notorious Franzen Bros. Circus in defiance of the ban. Brian Franzen has been convicted of cruelty to animals and has been caught on video striking an elephant with a bullhook and repeatedly whipping a tiger.
“This ordinance was passed in order to protect animals and ensure public safety, and the fairgrounds must not allow an out-of-town circus to come in and flout it,” says PETA Foundation Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “The Highlands County Fairgrounds must ensure that Sebring’s ordinance is followed, and PETA reminds the venue that it will be legally accountable for creating a public nuisance if it fails to do so.”
PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment.” For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA’s letter to Highlands County Fairgrounds Manager Mike Chambers follows.
August 6, 2018
Highlands County Fairgrounds
Re: Sebring Code Violations at Highlands County Fairgrounds
Dear Mr. Chambers,
I am writing on behalf of PETA and its more than 6.5 million members and supporters regarding your plans to host elephant and tiger acts in the Loomis Bros. Circus in defiance of local law, which strictly prohibits the use of any “bullhook, ankus, whip, electrical prod or other implement or tool that causes unjustifiable pain or suffering to a wild or exotic animal.” Sebring City Code § 4-40. This ban includes “brandishing, exhibiting or displaying a bullhook, ankus, whip, electric prod or an implement designed to look like a bullhook, ankus, whip, or electric prod in the presence of a wild or exotic animal for the purpose of training or controlling the behavior of the animal.” Id. (emphasis added). It is simply impossible for Loomis Bros. to display elephants or tigers without brandishing bullhooks, whips, or implements designed to look like them.
The fairgrounds faces liability if it allows such violations. The display of any implement that resembles a bullhook or whip, or that can cause pain and suffering constitutes a public nuisance, see id. § 1-7(f), and under state law the fairgrounds could both be subject to a citizen enforcement suit seeking a restraining order and attorney’s fees and costs, see Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 823.05(1); 60.05.
Loomis Bros.’ animal acts are provided by Franzen Bros. Circus, which has a well-documented history of cruelty. Brian Franzen was convicted of animal cruelty and faced federal enforcement action for repeatedly striking an elephant in the face with a bullhook. Last month he reportedly beat an elephant at a fair after two elephants began to fight on stage. He was also filmed at a performance repeatedly whipping a tiger and jabbing the animal in the face, and filmed at another performance jabbing an elephant in the jaw with a bullhook. Franzen’s abuse was also recently documented in an animal behaviorist’s detailed report.
Given that Franzen’s handling practices clearly violate the letter and spirit of Sebring’s laws, and that allowing such violations would subject the fairgrounds to liability, I strongly urge you to rethink your plans to host the elephant and tiger acts. Should you go forward with your plans, PETA will be documenting violations.
Very truly yours,
Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Vice President and Deputy General Counsel
Captive Animal Law Enforcement