Penn National Gaming Bans Animal Circuses After PETA Appeal

For Immediate Release:
November 11, 2020

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Wyomissing, Pa. – A vegan chocolate in the shape of a zebra is on its way from PETA to Wyomissing-based Penn National Gaming in thanks for its new pledge to never again host an animal circus at its 41 properties nationwide.

The decision comes after talks with PETA about the cruelty inherent in such circuses when Sam Houston Race Park, a Penn National-owned racetrack in Texas, decided to host UniverSoul Circus—the last time such a circus will appear at a Penn National property.

“Circuses sentence elephants, big cats, camels, zebras, and other vulnerable animals who should be living their lives in nature to ones of chains and cages in parking lots and arena basements,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Debbie Metzler. “Every company that follows Penn National Gaming’s lead helps PETA stamp out these cruel spectacles nationwide.”

It’s standard practice in circuses to beat, shock, and whip wild animals in order to force them to perform confusing and often painful tricks. Among others, UniverSoul has featured big-cat exhibitor Mitchel Kalmanson, who was caught transporting big cats around in a maggot-infested trailer. Video footage from a UniverSoul performance last year showed a worker punching a camel who was being used for rides, and during a 2017 inspection in Georgia, officers discovered wounded camels, an injured zebra, and elephants with bruised feet at UniverSoul.

Penn National Gaming’s commitment makes nearly 750 venues and dozens of communities nationwide that now prohibit or restrict circuses that use animals.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

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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