Evidence Provided by PETA of Physical and Psychological Threats to Two Elephants Leads to Government Action
Special to the Journal
Albany, Ga. — After PETA filed two complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the physical safety and psychological well-being of two elephants with Cole Bros. Circus, the circus has agreed to pay a $15,000 penalty to the USDA to settle formal charges against the circus, which is scheduled to perform in Albany on September 24 and 25. The charges came after PETA pointed out that two elephants, Tina and Jewel, were hundreds of pounds underweight and had been deprived of adequate veterinary care, including for a protruding spine. They were also sent to an unlicensed exhibitor with a long history of violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The more than 10 charges that Cole Bros. settled with the USDA include failure to provide the elephants with adequate veterinary care and failure to hire personnel capable of caring for them.
In 2009, the USDA felt that the case was so serious that the agency confiscated Jewel and also removed Tina. However, Cole Bros. continues to use other elephants in old-fashioned circus acts, and PETA sent the USDA alarming video footage taken at Cole Bros. Circus in Lanesboro, Mass., on June 17, 2011, that shows a handler who repeatedly struck an elephant using a bullhook (a rod with a solid, steel-pointed end that resembles a fireplace poker), including forcefully hitting the animal twice in the face. Also in June of last year, the USDA cited an elephant exhibitor with Cole Bros. for multiple violations of the AWA, including the use of “excessive force while tugging at” an elephant by digging a bullhook into her flesh. Elephant trainer Tim Frisco, who was caught on camera viciously beating terrified elephants and shocking them with electric prods, just joined Cole Bros.
“The USDA’s action against Cole Bros. should put all animal circuses on notice that, sooner or later, they must pay for animal abuse,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Since children love animals, the last place that parents and grandparents should take them to is the circus.” The USDA’s original complaint—filed after the USDA was contacted by PETA as well as by In Defense of Animals—and the settlement agreement are available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org. A list of the violations named in the charges follows.
The violations of the Animal Welfare Act for which Cole Bros. Circus was ordered to pay a $15,000 penalty include the following:
Failure to provide adequate veterinary care to two underweight elephants, including one with a prominent spine and sunken body image ·
Failure to have records for vet exams and tuberculosis tests ·
Failure to handle an elephant in a way that minimizes the risk of harm to the public and the elephant ·
Failure to employ personnel capable of caring for elephants ·
Failure to house elephants at a facility that could provide for their needs ·
Failure to follow recommendations of an elephant specialist ·
Failure to store medications properly ·
Transporting elephants to another person who was not equipped to care for them against the recommendation of an elephant specialist ·
Inadequate enclosures ·
Employing a handler who lacked training, knowledge, and experience
Employing a handler who lacked training, knowledge, and experience ·
Selling tigers without a dealer license