Video Shows Distressed Elephants, Safety Issues at Rochester-Bound Garden Bros. Circus

PETA Calls for Public to Steer Clear of Event After Disturbing Footage Reveals Lame Elephants Forced to Perform, Elephant Left Unattended

For Immediate Release:
April 24, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Rochester, N.Y. – PETA has obtained video footage, available here, taken at a Garden Bros. Circus performance earlier this month that shows lame elephants being forced to perform tricks and give rides—as well as an elephant swaying continuously in apparent distress while confined to the corner of a loud, congested gymnasium with nothing but a flimsy rope to constrain her and apparently no staff there to monitor her, posing a serious danger to the public. PETA provided Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex with information about the deplorable histories of Garden Bros. and Carson & Barnes Circus (the outfit that provides the elephant acts) before Garden Bros.’ upcoming performance on April 28 and is urging the public not to attend until only animal-free acts are featured.

In the video, an elephant named Libby can be seen swinging her trunk near the crowd as handler Habib Omar yells at her repeatedly. A second elephant, Bunny, was forced to give rides and perform tricks, even though the joints of her right front leg were stiff and unable to bend. The U.S. Department of Agriculture cited Carson & Barnes for failing to notice her condition and not providing her with veterinary care last summer.

“Garden Bros. drags chained and caged animals across the country, denies them everything that’s natural and important to them, and forces them to perform tricks that are pointless, dangerous, and painful,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA is calling on people to steer clear of this circus until it agrees to feature exclusively willing, human performers.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that Garden Bros.’ history of animal-welfare violations includes failing to notice and treat bloody wounds on a camel’s legs, among other incidents. In 2013, an eyewitness reported seeing circus manager Zachary Garden viciously strike a zebra with a 3-foot-long stick. In addition, Omar was filmed at a performance venue using a bullhook—a sharp weapon resembling a fireplace poker that’s used to jab, strike, and intimidate elephants—to yank Libby’s ear as he screamed at her using vulgar language. In 2016, Carson & Barnes was ordered to pay a $16,000 penalty after elephants escaped from a circus venue when they became stressed by audience noise—endangering themselves and the public.

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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