St. Lucie County Bars Circus From Using Animals After PETA Appeal

Garden Bros. Circus Thumbed Its Nose at Permit Requirement, but County Enforces the Rule

For Immediate Release:
November 8, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Fort Pierce, Fla. – After PETA sent a letter pointing out that the notorious Garden Bros. Circus failed to obtain the permit that it’s required to have in order to perform with animals during its shows at the St. Lucie County Fairgrounds on November 12 and 13, county officials responded by directing the circus to put on animal-free performances.

“St. Lucie County has done the right thing by enforcing the law and blocking Garden Bros. Circus from hauling suffering and potentially dangerous animals into town and forcing them to perform under threat of punishment,” says PETA Foundation Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “Every city, county, and venue that rejects animal acts helps PETA push circuses toward an animal-free future.”

In its letter to county officials, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—pointed out that Garden Bros.’ elephant act is provided by Carson & Barnes, which has been assessed federal penalties for improper elephant handling and elephant escapes and has a well-documented record of abusing animals. Carson & Barnes’ head trainer was caught on video viciously attacking elephants with a bullhook—a sharp weapon resembling a fireplace poker used to jab, strike, and intimidate elephants—and shocking them with electric prods, causing them to scream in pain.

In addition, the elephants used by Garden Bros.—Isa and Viola—have a history of escapes: Isa once escaped from a circus and remained at large for weeks before being recaptured, and Viola once ran off and fell into a ravine. In 2014, both were distressed by audience noise, escaped from a circus performance, and ran amok for nearly an hour.

St. Lucie County joins many cities—including Norfolk, Virginia; Minneapolis; Little Falls, Minnesota; and Rio Rancho, New Mexico—and the state of Maine, among other locations, in allowing Garden Bros. to perform only if it does so without elephants and other animals.

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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