Photos: Wounded Elephant Spotted at Shrine Circus; Action Sought

PETA Points to Elephant Handler's History of Violently Beating Animals

For Immediate Release:
April 26, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Kingston, Pa. – An audience member at a recent performance of the Irem Shrine Circus in Kingston has sent PETA photographs showing an elephant at the circus suffering from multiple wounds, including what appears to be an open, ulcerated wound on her tail and another ulcer on her right rear leg, as well as a wound on her trunk. The lesions are consistent with puncture wounds from a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end that’s used by circus handlers to beat and threaten elephants into performing tricks. The elephant handler at the Irem Shrine Circus, Tim Frisco, has a long history of inflicting painful injuries on elephants: He has been caught on camera viciously striking them, electroshocking them, and instructing other handlers to beat them with a bullhook until they scream in pain.

“The sight of an ulcerated, open wound on an elephant should horrify any kind person,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “Violence and cruelty are the norm at any circus that uses wild animals, which is exactly why PETA urges families to choose exclusively animal-free entertainment.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that the Carson & Barnes Circus, which provided the Irem Shrine Circus with Frisco’s elephant act, has a long history of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act, including failing to document treatment of veterinary problems of an elephant who lost 500 pounds in just a few months and then died and failing to notice an elephant’s recurring and apparently painful lameness in one of her legs. Last year, the circus paid a hefty fine for mishandling elephants on two occasions, including one incident in which three elephants escaped and ran amok for nearly an hour, causing injuries to two of them and damage to the venue and cars in the parking lot.

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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