Under New Management, Kelly Miller Circus Goes Exotic Animal–Free

Move Comes After Decades of PETA Protests, Lost Sponsors, Bans on Animal Acts

For Immediate Release:
January 10, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Hugo, Okla. – It’s a new, exotic animal–free future for the Kelly Miller Circus, which is under new ownership after previous owner John Ringling North II—the last of the Ringlings still working with circuses—was forced to sell after his sponsors and city officials were inundated with e-mails protesting his last tour, which included elephants and zebras. Incoming circus owner James Kendrick Judkins has confirmed to PETA that there will be no exotic-animal acts in the circus going forward.

“Today’s public doesn’t want to see animals beaten and bullied into performing tricks,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “Rather than following Ringling Bros. to the grave, Kelly Miller has adapted to the times and kicked acts that use and abuse wild animals to the curb.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—contacted more than 100 of Kelly Miller’s sponsors and venues last year alone to ask them to support the circus only if it performs without animals. Among others, the Lockport Township Park District in Illinois pledged not to host an animal circus again, Michigan’s Centro Multicultural La Familia dropped its sponsorship of Kelly Miller, and Wisner Memorial Stadium, also in Michigan, canceled scheduled shows.

Under its previous ownership, exhibitor Carolyn Rice was caught using an electric prod on zebras and camels at a Kelly Miller show in 2015 and elephant handler Joey Frisco was filmed striking elephants in the face with a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end—while he was working for Ringling Bros.

In recent years, Ringling Bros. shut down, Cole Bros. stopped touring, and Ramos Bros. dropped its wild-animal acts. More than 620 malls and 70 jurisdictions nationwide now restrict circuses that use animals.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

 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