Marshfield-Bound Cole Bros. Circus Racks Up Federal Animal Welfare Citations

Circus’s Elephant Exhibitor Pays Fines for Public Endangerment, Animal Abuse—Some Based on Evidence Supplied by PETA

For Immediate Release:
June 10, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Marshfield, Mass. — The Cole Bros. Circus is heading to Marshfield next week, and PETA wants the media and parents to know about its repeated violations of federal laws aimed at protecting animals and members of the public. Elephants used by Cole Bros. are supplied by the notorious Carson & Barnes Circus, and the circus act includes elephant trainer Tim Frisco, who was caught on camera viciously beating terrified elephants with a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on the end—and shocking them with electric prods. Carson & Barnes also paid a fine for 10 separate violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act last year, including for public endangerment.

“Abuse is the common thread running through Cole Bros., Carson & Barnes, and other circuses whose exhibitors beat, whip, and shock animals into performing,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Because children love animals—and for the children’s own safety—the last place that parents and grandparents should take them is to the circus.”

Some of Carson & Barnes’ 2012 violations cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) occurred while the circus was supplying elephants to Cole Bros. The violations include one incident in which an elephant escaped and ran directly past a line of customers waiting to buy tickets, sending some of them running toward the parking lot. The elephant was on the loose for 30 minutes and was injured after falling into a ravine. In another incident, a USDA inspector observed that a handler used excessive force with a bullhook on an elephant, and the inspector noted that “the handlers frequently left the animals unattended” during the elephant rides. Cole Bros. also paid a separate $15,000 penalty to the USDA to settle charges after PETA pointed out that two elephants, Tina and Jewel, were hundreds of pounds underweight. Additionally, Cole Bros. is on probation after pleading guilty to selling these elephants in violation of the Endangered Species Act and paying a $150,000 penalty.

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