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UPDATE—PLEASE NOTE: It has come to PETA’s attention that the Toledo Area Humane Society (TAHS) is claiming that it had not received a complaint about the reported elephant beating until the elephant and the alleged beater left its jurisdiction and that the agency’s hands are tied because the alleged perpetrator is no longer in its jurisdiction. In fact, PETA called the TAHS’ Cruelty Hotline on August 9, while the circus was still in the TAHS’ jurisdiction, in order to report the alleged elephant beating and request that the TAHS immediately investigate this matter. PETA had also sent a letter to the TAHS on August 1 in order to alert the agency in advance of the Kelly Miller Circus’ arrival in its jurisdiction and warned the TAHS that Carson & Barnes Circus—which provides the Kelly Miller Circus with elephants—has a long and well-documented history of bullhook abuse of elephants. The TAHS never acknowledged or responded to PETA’s call and letter. Most importantly, the TAHS does have the authority to ensure that charges are pressed and an arrest warrant be issued based on the eyewitness reports of an elephant beating it has received.
A citizen who was at the Kelly Miller Circus elephant rides in Point Place, Ohio, on August 8 told PETA that she witnessed a handler attack an elephant used for rides with a “stick” that appeared to have a “sharp hook on the end”—a weapon commonly known as a bullhook, which is used to hurt and intimidate elephants.
According to the citizen’s sworn affidavit, she and her 13-year-old son witnessed the handler attack the elephant, who had four young children on her back, with such force that she could hear a “whack” sound with each strike.
The violent beating that the citizen reports to have witnessed would violate Ohio law, which clearly prohibits cruelly and unnecessarily beating animals as well as using “electric or other prods, or similar devices” on animals who are “performing, or being used in any exhibition, show, [or] circus.” After being informed that the Toledo Area Humane Society (TAHS) has the authority to pursue this case, PETA contacted the TAHS and provided it with the citizen’s sworn affidavit, her police report, her authenticated photographs of the handler, and even the likely name of the alleged perpetrator. Despite this evidence, and even though two eyewitnesses reportedly observed the beating, the TAHS is refusing to press charges against the handler who allegedly beat an elephant in the agency’s jurisdiction.