No Elephants at Garden Bros. Circus Show After PETA Appeal

Officials Bar Notoriously Cruel Circus From Hauling Suffering Elephants Across State Lines

For Immediate Release:
January 16, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Paducah, Ky.

After PETA alerted the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources of Garden Bros. Circus‘ plans to perform with elephants at the Paducah-McCracken County Convention & Expo Center on February 13—despite a local law that prohibits animals who “constitute a danger to the safety of others” and a state law that bans the possession of inherently dangerous wildlife—the agency assured PETA that the circus would not be allowed to bring elephants into the state.

“While other circuses have switched to shows that feature only willing human performers, Garden Bros. Circus is still sneaking around with its cruel, dangerous, and unwanted elephant acts,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “State officials did the right thing here, as every rejection of wild-animal acts helps PETA push circuses toward an animal-free future.”

Last year, Garden Bros. used two elephants, named Betty and Bo, supplied by Larry Carden—even though Betty is chronically lame, likely a result of prolonged chaining and confinement. In 2018, officials in Massachusetts and Missouri prevented Garden Bros. from using an underweight horse in performances and charged handlers for holding elephants, camels, and ponies on hot asphalt without shade, respectively. In a 2017 whistleblower complaint, a former Garden Bros. employee described frequently seeing elephants with blood dripping from behind their ears and reported that a handler beat, punched, and kicked a camel after a performance. A handler was also caught repeatedly whipping a llama.

Numerous venues and localities across the country—including in Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.—have canceled Garden Bros. shows or barred the circus from performing with animals.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that when Garden Bros. previously brought elephants into Kentucky in 2018, the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources filed charges against the elephants’ handler for failing to comply with the terms of his state permit.

PETA opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

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