Whistleblower: Camels Whipped, Punched by Hoosier Camel Encounter

PETA Calls for Investigation Into Cruel Outfit That Supplies Animals to Notorious Garden Bros. Circus

For Immediate Release:
August 30, 2017

Brooke Rossi 202-483-7382

Huntington, Ind.

Armed with damning firsthand accounts from a whistleblower, PETA has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling on the agency to investigate and, as appropriate, take enforcement action against Hoosier Camel Encounter—an outfit that supplies camels and other animals to the notorious Garden Bros. Circus—for apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. The whistleblower, who is a former Garden Bros. employee, reports that an animal handler for Hoosier Camel Encounter, Evan Wall, would whip camels’ feet—sometimes drawing blood—before performances and once beat, punched, and kicked a camel named Cash for up to 15 minutes as the animal howled in pain.

The whistleblower also reports that Wall routinely forced a llama named Poncho to perform a trick so difficult that circus workers bet on whether Poncho would be able to do it. This claim is substantiated by video footage that PETA submitted to the USDA in February 2017, which shows the llama falling. That same month, Wall was cited after a handler repeatedly whipped the llama onstage, causing the animal to become distressed and to spit at the handler. Wall allegedly dumped Poncho at a petting zoo around the same time that he reportedly got rid of a buffalo calf named Tatonka who, according to the whistleblower, was left in a trailer at all times except when handlers would drag him on stage by a rope attached to a ring in his septum—inflicting pain with each tug of the rope.

“These disturbing firsthand reports expose the torture behind the tricks at Hoosier Camel Encounter,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on authorities to investigate these claims and, if warranted, throw the book at this violent operation that has apparently made a business out of whipping camels’ feet until they bleed.”

PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—points out that Hoosier Camel Encounter also endangers the public: According to the whistleblower, the agitated animals would sometimes run into the crowd during shows, and at one performance, a camel who was being walked through the crowd by a handler even kicked a woman.

PETA’s letter to the USDA is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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