Notorious Elephant Abuser Could Find Itself on the Wrong Side of Ohio Law
For Immediate Release:
July 17, 2013
David Perle 202-483-7382
Ashtabula County, Ohio — This morning, PETA sent an urgent letter to Conneaut City Manager Timothy Eggleston and Police Chief Charles Burlingham and to Orwell City Manager Jack J. Nettis Jr. and Ashtabula County Humane Society President Mike Kelly informing them that the Kelly Miller Circus will perform in Conneaut tomorrow and in Orwell on Friday. In its letter, PETA asks them to watch out for the elephant handlers’ apparently illegal use of bullhooks—weapons with a sharp steel hook on one end that are used to handle and punish elephants. As PETA points out, Ohio law forbids the use of prods of any kind on animals used in circuses. Handlers with the Kelly Miller Circus—which leases its elephant act from its sister circus, Carson & Barnes—routinely uses bullhooks on elephants.
Circus workers are notorious for embedding bullhooks into elephants’ most sensitive areas. An undercover video captured a Carson & Barnes elephant trainer viciously attacking elephants with a bullhook and shocking them with electric prods. The elephants emitted agonizing screams while recoiling from the assaults. The trainer is also documented in the video instructing his protégés to strike the elephants forcefully with bullhooks and to sink the weapons into their flesh and twist them until they scream in pain. Authorities have cited the Kelly Miller Circus itself with denying adequate veterinary care to an elephant with a painful, oozing puncture wound that pierced her ear, among other abuses.
“The Kelly Miller and Carson & Barnes circuses have been abusing elephants and other animals for decades, but thanks to Ohio law, officials have the power to stop the use of cruel bullhooks, and we hope they use it,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Conneaut and Orwell officials have both the opportunity and an obligation to stop these circuses from abusing elephants with bullhooks and to make them pay the price if they don’t.”
For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA’s letter to Conneaut City Manager Timothy Eggleston and Police Chief Charles Burlingham follows.
July 17, 2013
Timothy J. Eggleston, City Manager
Charles J. Burlingham, Chief of Police
City of Conneaut, Ohio
Dear Mr. Eggleston and Chief Burlingham:
I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA) and its thousands of Ohio members and supporters to request with all due respect that you fully enforce Ohio Revised Code § 959.20—which outlaws the use of “electric or other prods, or similar devices” on animals who are “performing, or being used in any exhibition, show, [or] circus”—to protect elephants with the Kelly Miller Circus during its stint in Conneaut tomorrow, July 18. Kelly Miller leases its elephant act from its sister circus, Carson & Barnes, which has a longstanding history of abusing elephants with sharp-tipped “training tools” called “bullhooks” that resemble fireplace pokers. Please ensure that this prohibition is strictly enforced while Kelly Miller appears in Conneaut by putting the circus on notice that no bullhook use will be tolerated and, should the circus disregard the law, taking swift action.
Carson & Barnes’ bullhook abuse of elephants is well documented. For example, an undercover video of a Carson & Barnes training session shows trainer Tim Frisco—who is still with Carson & Barnes— viciously attacking elephants with a bullhook and shocking them with electric prods. The elephants emit agonizing screams while recoiling from the assaults. Frisco has also been documented instructing his protégés to strike the elephants forcefully with bullhooks and sink bullhooks into the elephants’ flesh and twist them until the animals scream in pain. And on June 17, 2011, a man and his son were shocked to observe and videotape a Carson & Barnes elephant handler shouting at elephants before striking one of them multiple times, producing clearly audible “whack” sounds. Also in 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited Carson & Barnes after observing a handler using excessive force with a bullhook on an elephant. The USDA has also cited Kelly Miller for failure to provide an elephant with a painful oozing puncture wound that pierced her ear with veterinary care.
Please keep this history of bullhook abuse in mind as you ensure that the circus abides by state law while in Conneaut and be sure to hold the circus and its handlers accountable for any bullhook use. May I please hear from you by this evening at 5 p.m. ET that you have notified Kelly Miller and Carson & Barnes that the use of bullhooks is strictly prohibited and that you intend to enforce this prohibition? Thank you for your prompt attention to this important and time-sensitive matter.
Very truly yours,
Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement