Ware County Won’t Enforce ‘Dangerous Animals’ Law

Commissioners' Refusal to Enforce Ordinance Against Garden Bros. Circus Puts Public and Animals at Risk, Says PETA

For Immediate Release:
January 21, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Ware County, Ga. – Despite knowing that Ware County’s ordinances prohibit the possession of “inherently dangerous” animals or any federally protected endangered species—which includes elephants—the County Board of Commissioners and its legal staff have refused to enforce the law ahead of Wednesday’s performance by the notoriously cruel Garden Bros. Circus.

PETA has urged them to enforce the county’s law for the safety of both humans and animals. This morning, the group sent a final appeal to County Manager Scott Moye, urging him to follow the law and bar the circus from bringing elephants into the county.

“It is shameful when elected officials put the commercial interests of an out-of-town business above the safety and well-being of animals and the county’s own population, including vulnerable children,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “It’s up to everyone to show that law violators aren’t welcome in Ware County by refusing to buy a ticket to Garden Bros. or any act that forces wild animals to perform.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Scott Moye follows.

January 21, 2020

Scott Moye

County Manager

Ware County, Georgia

Dear Mr. Moye,

I’m writing on behalf of PETA to request again that Ware County enforce the law by barring the notoriously cruel Garden Bros. Circus from bringing elephants to the county as advertised. By deliberately ignoring its own ordinances, the county is putting the public and animals at risk.

Ware County prohibits the possession of “inherently dangerous” animals or any federally protected endangered species. Elephants are both. Despite agreeing with PETA that this ordinance prohibits the circus from using elephants, the Ware County Board of Commissioners and its legal staff have shamefully chosen not to enforce it. By permitting an out-of-town circus to flout the law, you’re putting the citizens of Ware County at risk and doing a disservice to elephants.

Elephants are “inherently dangerous” wild animals. There is no way to predict which elephant will lash out and when, and incidents involving captive elephants have resulted in dozens of human deaths or catastrophic injuries. Elephants previously exhibited by Garden Bros. have attacked other elephants, escaped from venues, and, in one instance, remained at large for weeks before being recaptured.

It’s little wonder that these animals would try to flee their handlers: They are forced into submission using electric prods and steel-tipped weapons called bullhooks and only perform tricks because they’ve been chained and beaten until their spirits are broken. For example, one exhibitor used by this circus was caught beating an elephant in the face simply for eating hay.

By the county’s own admission, Garden Bros.’ possession of elephants violates the law. PETA urges Ware County to join the growing list of jurisdictions—including Little Falls, Minnesota; Rio Rancho, New Mexico; Norfolk, Virginia; the state of Kentucky; and others—that have enforced their own laws and ordinances by barring Garden Bros. from using elephants. Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Rachel Mathews, Esq.

Deputy Director | Captive Animal Law Enforcement

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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