Newly Animal-Free Kelly Miller Circus Celebrates ‘Best Show’ in Years

Under New Ownership, Circus Embraces Human-Only Acts After Decades of PETA Protests, Lost Sponsors, Bans on Animal Acts

For Immediate Release:
April 26, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Hugo, Okla.

Kelly Miller Circus just kicked off its new season—and thanks to its new owner, James Kendrick Judkins, it’s 100 percent animal-free. The new show features aerial acrobats, clowns, jugglers, a fire breather, and more—and Judkins tells PETA that opening-day audiences praised the new show as “the best … that they have seen in years.”

Judkins bought the show from its previous owner, John Ringling North II—the last of the Ringlings still working with circuses—after North’s sponsors and city officials were inundated with e-mails protesting his last tour, which included elephants and zebras. Judkins quickly pledged not to use exotic animals in his shows.

“Modern audiences are rejecting archaic circuses that bully elephants and zebras into performing tricks,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA is encouraging the public to keep an eye on Kelly Miller Circus’ touring schedule and support this thrilling animal-free circus when it comes to town.”

Under its prior ownership, at a Kelly Miller show in 2015, an exhibitor was caught using an electric prod on zebras and camels. The circus also used an elephant handler who’d been filmed striking elephants in the face while he was working for Ringling Bros.

Last year alone, 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 to ask them to support the circus only if it performed 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.

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.

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