PETA to New Circus World Director: New Broom Should Sweep Clean the Elephant Acts

Carson & Barnes’ Failure to Provide Veterinary Care Latest in Long History of Violations, Citations

For Immediate Release:
September 5, 2013

Shakira Croce 202-483-7382

Baraboo, Wis. —  PETA is appealing to Scott O’Donnell, the recently appointed executive director of Baraboo-based Circus World Museum, to reexamine the practice of hosting elephant exhibits. The group’s letter today comes in the wake of yet another citation issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the notorious Carson & Barnes Circus for violating the Animal Welfare Act. While at Circus World, Carson & Barnes failed to produce veterinary records for a 50-year-old elephant named Nina, who was found with a “thin body condition.” The inspector noted that Nina’s hip bones and shoulder blades were visible. The circus could not provide any record of veterinary care, and the veterinarian the circus claimed to have used couldn’t be found.

“We are hoping Circus World will no longer host animal abusers who dominate and abuse elephants with bullhooks and electric prods,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Circuses that use elephants abuse elephants. The only way for Circus World to remove itself from that abuse is to ban elephant exhibits.”

Carson & Barnes has been cited by the USDA more than 100 times and also has a history of beating elephants. PETA has acquired video footage of a Carson & Barnes elephant handler beating elephants with bullhooks—weapons with a sharp steel hook on the end—and shocking them with electric prods as he instructs other handlers to do the same. Just last year, Carson & Barnes illegally took elephants into Wisconsin for exhibition at Circus World, including an elephant who had recently been exposed to a strain of tuberculosis that’s highly transmissible to humans, even without direct contact. Circus World has previously hosted Hugo Liebel, despite his abysmal history of abuse.

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PETA’s letter to Mr. O’Donnell follows.

September 5, 2013

Scott O’Donnell, Executive Director
Circus World Museum

7 pages via e-mail and fax: [email protected]

Re: Circus World Elephant Exhibits

Dear Mr. O’Donnell:

I am writing on behalf of PETA and its more than 3 million members and supporters, including nearly 30,000 in Wisconsin, to congratulate you on your new position as the executive director of Circus World Museum and to urge you to end Circus World’s elephant exhibits. Having worked with the Big Apple Circus—which has successfully entertained the public for decades without using exotic animals—you must know that Circus World’s cruel elephant exhibits are antiquated and unnecessary. Please usher in a progressive and compassionate chapter in Circus World’s history by pledging to end cruel elephant exhibits.

Carson & Barnes Circus, which recently exhibited elephants at Circus World, is infamous for its neglect and abuse of animals and its more than 100 Animal Welfare Act violations. Just last month, while at Circus World, Carson & Barnes was cited for failing to show that it had given veterinary care to a thin elephant with visible hip bones and shoulder blades. Also last month, in a sworn affidavit, a citizen detailed a Carson & Barnes handler’s attack on an elephant. According to the eyewitness, the handler forcefully struck the elephant with a bullhook until she screamed. This report is consistent with Carson & Barnes’ history of elephant abuse—including an undercover video of a training session in which trainer Tim Frisco, who still works for Carson & Barnes, viciously attacks elephants with a bullhook and electroshocks them.

More and more people realize that forcing elephants—who are similar to humans in terms of intelligence, emotions, and social life—to travel and perform unnatural tricks should be ended. Many countries have banned such practices, as have localities across the U.S., including nearby Dane County, and even private actors, including arenas and the Simon Property Group, the country’s largest real-estate company.

For the sake of animal welfare and for the public-safety reasons detailed in the appendix, please ensure that Circus World no longer exhibits elephants. May I please hear back from you about this matter by September 27? PETA’s members eagerly await an update

Very truly yours,

Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement


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