PETA Calls On Shopping Mart to Cancel Cruel UniverSoul Circus Acts

PETA Calls On Shopping Mart to Cancel Cruel UniverSoul Circus Acts

For Immediate Release:
November 12, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Charlotte, N.C. – Today, PETA sent an urgent letter to Freedom Shopping Mart Center COO Scott Wyn and property owner Vicken Baklayan, urging them to cancel a visit by the notoriously abusive big-cat and elephant acts scheduled to appear with the UniverSoul Circus from November 19 to 24. In the letter, PETA points out that Mitchel Kalmanson, who supplies the circus with tigers and a cougar, has a long history of federal Animal Welfare Act violations, capped off by a sworn affidavit obtained from a former UniverSoul employee attesting to routine cruelty by Kalmanson and elephant exhibitors Jorge and Louann Barreda.

“For years, UniverSoul and its exhibitors have been synonymous with animal suffering,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Their despicable—and often illegal—routine abuse of elephants and big cats must be stopped, and Freedom Shopping Mart Center can do its part by canceling these cruel acts.”

The whistleblower reported that elephants were routinely struck with bullhooks—weapons that resemble fireplace pokers with a sharp steel hook on the end—in the most sensitive areas of their bodies and that big cats were kept locked in cramped cages and never allowed any exercise. The affidavit states that the elephants provided by the Barredas are kept chained by one leg at all times when not performing and exhibit constant swaying and head-bobbing—signs of severe stress. Between April and July 2013 alone, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited Kalmanson during multiple inspections for, among other violations, failing to care for a limping tiger properly, failing to provide big cats with adequate space, and putting a tiger at risk of strangulation by leaving a chain dangling from the animal’s neck.

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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