Whistleblower Reports Beating, Deaths of Animals at Grayslake-Bound Circus

Insider Describes Routine Abuses of Zebras and Other Animals in Basis for PETA Federal Complaint

For Immediate Release:
May 22, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Grayslake, Ill. — According to a whistleblower’s sworn affidavit, handlers with Piccadilly Circus, which is scheduled to perform in Grayslake next week, regularly beat animals who fail to perform their stunts perfectly. The recent report is the basis for a PETA complaint submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the circus’s alleged habitual abuse of animals and systemic failure to provide veterinary care—including leaving a sick goat to die in the woods and allowing a sheep with a broken leg to suffer untreated for weeks—among other apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

“Piccadilly Circus is a pit of abuse, neglect, and death for animals,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Children naturally love animals, so the last place that parents and grandparents should take them to is the circus.”

In October 2012, following an earlier PETA complaint, the USDA discovered that a young zebra had died after getting his jaw and foot caught in another zebra’s halter. Two months later, the USDA issued an official warning to circus General Manager Zachary Garden for failing to handle animals properly. Although the USDA reports that an employee told the agency that the circus would begin removing halters from the zebras at night and using breakaway halters to prevent future incidents, according to the whistleblower, neither was done.

Piccadilly has a documented history of animal abuse and neglect beyond that detailed in the whistleblower’s sworn affidavit. For example, according to a 2012 letter from Fort Wayne, Ind., officials, a witness observed an elephant with Piccadilly being beaten repeatedly. This incident was confirmed during interviews with the perpetrator, the circus manager, and the elephants’ owner. The letter states that the handler struck the elephant with a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp steel hook on one end—on her face and trunk repeatedly.

For more information about acts of animal abuse committed by Piccadilly Circus, please see PETA’s factsheet.

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