Mall’s Closure May Prompt Gift of ‘Crying Elephant’ Statue

PETA's 'Ella Phantzperil' Statue Would Shed Light on UniverSoul Circus' Cruelty

For Immediate Release:
December 17, 2018

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Burlington, N.J. – The owner of the soon-to-be-demolished Burlington Center Mall is looking to donate the elephant statue located there, so today, PETA sent a letter to Moonbeam Capital Investments—which owns the mall—offering to take the statue and, in exchange, send its own elephant statue to another mall owned by Moonbeam, in Duluth, Georgia. PETA’s statue—which depicts a shackled, crying elephant—would arrive in time to warn audiences to stay away from UniverSoul Circus’ scheduled performances at the Duluth mall in March.

“PETA’s elephant statue represents all the majestic pachyderms who’ve been shackled and beaten for circus performances,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “By accepting PETA’s offer, Burlington Center’s management can turn the mall’s closure into an opportunity to spark an important discussion about the use of animals for entertainment.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that New Jersey just became the first state in the U.S. to prohibit the use of elephants and other wild animals in circuses like UniverSoul. Last year, an inspection of UniverSoul’s elephant exhibitor, Larry Carden, revealed that elephants with bruised feet were being forced to stand on concrete and that one elephant’s wound had been covered up with a gray powder called Wonder Dust.

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PETA’s letter to Moonbeam Capital Investments follows.

December 17, 2018

Steven Maksin, CEO

Moonbeam Capital Investments, LLC

Dear Mr. Maksin,

In light of your search for a new home for the Burlington Center Mall’s elephant structure, I’m writing on behalf of PETA with a pachyderm proposal. We’d be honored to accept this artwork—modeled after Petal, who used to live at the Philadelphia Zoo—if you’ll agree to erect our elephant statue, which depicts the cruelty of animal circuses, during UniverSoul Circus shows at Gwinnett Place Mall in March.

PETA’s elephant—Ella Phantzperil—was designed by noted New Yorker cover artist and cartoonist Harry Bliss. She’s shackled, and her tears teach people about the suffering that animals endure for circuses like UniverSoul. Gwinnett Place Mall would join other notable locations that have used Ella for public art projects, including Washington, D.C., and Rochester, New York.

Instead of being allowed to roam in herds and socialize, these magnificent animals are chained, beaten, and dragged from city to city. They’re forced to give rides or perform confusing, often painful tricks—such as balancing on balls and doing headstands—under the constant threat of violence. Betty and Bo—the elephants frequently exploited by UniverSoul—are no exception. In 2017, for example, an inspector in Georgia found that they had no water and were forced to stand on concrete, even though they had bruised feet—a very painful condition. Ella represents all elephants who’ve suffered for entertainment and should now be retired to sanctuaries.

A similar Ella statue has gone over big in D.C. Tourists line up for photographs, while schoolchildren learn about empathy and respect for all living, feeling beings during story time with her. She receives postcards from kids all around the world. We’ll ensure that your sculpture will also draw the attention of families, which as its designer said, is very important.

Public opposition to using animals for entertainment has never been greater, as animal circuses are shutting down or nixing cruel acts, and venues and jurisdictions around the world are banning elephant and other wild-animal exhibits. The elephant represented in the statue died, and the Philadelphia Zoo made the savvy decision to end its elephant exhibit. It’s not too late to help the elephants and other animals suffering right now at UniverSoul and in other circuses by accepting this offer and hosting only non-animal circuses in the future.

PETA would cover the cost to have Ella—with her message that all of us can make a difference with kind choices—at Gwinnett Place Mall. Thank you for your consideration.


Tracy Reiman

Executive Vice President

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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