Wounded Animals Spotted at Circus—but County Official Blocks Full Inspection

PETA Calls for Investigation Into Why County Administrator Forced Animal Services to Stop Filming Inspection of UniverSoul Circus

For Immediate Release:
March 2, 2017

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Atlanta – Today, PETA sent a letter to the mayor of Atlanta, the Atlanta City Council, and the Fulton County Board of Commissioners calling for an immediate investigation into an apparent interference of a recent animal-welfare inspection of UniverSoul Circus. During the inspection, officers discovered numerous animal-welfare issues—including wounded camels, an injured zebra, elephants with bruised feet, and an elephant named Bo with a wound on his ankle—but were prevented from taking video evidence.

An agreement between the city and county requires that inspections of circuses be filmed—but video footage from Fulton County Animal Services’ (FCAS) February 8 inspection of the circus reveals that after UniverSoul elephant exhibitor Larry Carden asked FCAS officers to stop filming, county contracts administrator Oliver Delk ordered that they do so, saying, “[N]ext thing I know I see [the footage] on Facebook, PETA, and other places.” FCAS officers stopped filming and created only written records of their inspection, with just a few photos.

“A county administrator has no business shielding the circus from scrutiny,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “Animal Services’ job is to protect animals, which means obtaining evidence, and PETA is calling for an investigation into why officers were prevented from carrying out their duties.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that Carden was charged with abusive behavior toward an elephant in Atlanta in 2015 after he allegedly forced Bo offstage by inserting a bullhook (a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp hook on one end) into his mouth. This year, an officer tried to get a close photograph of the apparent wound on Bo’s ankle but was unable to get a clear shot because, according to the written report, “‘something’ caused the elephant to move [his] leg when I tried to take pictures. I’m pretty sure [Carden] was doing something to cause this.”

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“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