Video: Elephants Repeatedly Struck With Bullhook at Garden Bros. Circus Show

New Footage Prompts PETA to Call On Five Flags Center to Commit to Animal-Free Entertainment

For Immediate Release:
June 18, 2018

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Dubuque, Iowa – PETA is calling on the Five Flags Center this morning to ban all animal acts after the group received new video footage from a recent Garden Bros. performance at the arena that shows an elephant handler overtly and frequently poking, yanking, and prodding elephants in sensitive areas of their bodies. While on stage, elephant trainer Anthony Frisco can be seen using a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end—to coerce the elephants into performing by jabbing them behind their ears and legs and down their sides.

PETA, which previously alerted the Five Flags Center to Garden Bros.’ long history of working with abusive animal exhibitors, is now calling for the venue to bar animal acts in the future.

“Circuses are notorious for using weapons to force elephants to perform, and they even use a gray powder called Wonder Dust to cover up the bloody wounds,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director Rachel Mathews. “PETA is calling on the Five Flags Center to commit to hosting only animal-free circuses and other shows that feature talented, willing human performers and not abused animals.”

Garden Bros. has an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau. Its elephant provider, Carson & Barnes Circus, has been cited for more than 100 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and employs as its head trainer Tim Frisco—Anthony Frisco’s father—who was caught on video attacking elephants with a bullhook and an electric prod. In a recent whistleblower complaint, a former Garden Bros. employee described frequently seeing elephants with blood dripping from behind their ears.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that venues and localities across the country, including in Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Vermont, and Virginia, have canceled Garden Bros. shows or barred it from performing with animals. More than 620 venues and dozens of communities nationwide prohibit or restrict animal acts.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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