Steer Clear of Circus World, PETA Urges German American Heritage Center

For Immediate Release:
June 17, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Davenport, Iowa

PETA has just sent the following letter to the German American Heritage Center urging it to cancel its planned trip to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wis., and pointing out that Circus World repeatedly hosts elephant exhibitors that have violated animal-welfare laws. One such exhibitor is Carson & Barnes Circus, which has been cited more than 100 times and fined for violating animal-protection laws, including 10 violations in 2012 alone. PETA has obtained video footage of Carson & Barnes’ head trainer, Tim Frisco, beating elephants with a bullhook—a weapon with a sharp metal hook on one end—and instructing other handlers to use the hook with such force that the elephants cry out in pain, which is audible in the video. Last year while at Circus World, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited Carson & Barnes after the agency found an underweight elephant with visible hip bones and shoulder blades.

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June 17, 2014


Janet Brown-Lowe
Executive Director
German American Heritage Center


Dear Ms. Brown-Lowe:

I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing on behalf of PETA and its more than 3 million members and supporters worldwide. PETA was alarmed to discover that the German American Heritage Center of Davenport is planning a July 19 trip to Circus World, which hosts elephant exhibitors with well-documented records of animal abuse. After reviewing the information below, I hope you will agree to cancel this trip and to implement a policy against promoting wild-animal exhibitors.

First, elephant exhibits pose a risk to public safety. In March 2014, three elephants rampaged after escaping from an elephant ride area in St. Charles, Mo. Fortunately, no children were injured, but they easily could have been. And last year, a woman was hospitalized for nearly two months with numerous internal injuries after being attacked by an elephant at a Florida facility. Second, Circus World is featuring an elephant act put on by Carson & Barnes Circus, which has an appalling record of mistreating animals and has racked up more than 100 federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations. In fact, while at Circus World last year, 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. Furthermore, an undercover video of a Carson & Barnes training session shows head trainer Tim Frisco—who still works for Carson & Barnes—viciously attacking elephants with a bullhook and electro-shocking them. In 2013, the disreputable Hugo Liebel—another elephant exhibitor that Circus World has hosted—was ordered to pay $7,500 to settle almost three dozen charges for AWA violations, most of them related to his treatment of the solitary elephant Nosey.

PETA repeatedly attempted to communicate with Circus World regarding our animal-welfare and public-safety concerns with its elephant exhibits, but to no avail. The board of directors has refused to respond to PETA’s correspondence, even after multiple calls and polite e-mails and also after hearing from more than 77,000 concerned citizens.

We urge you to take the most significant direct action that you can in order to help the animals exploited by Circus World by cancelling your trip and making the kind decision not to promote wild-animal exhibitors in the future.

May I please hear back from you on this important matter?

Very truly yours,

Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement

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