The new year got off to a great start for animals with Ringling Bros. Circus’ announcement that it was shutting down. And after 36 years of PETA protests and efforts to reveal to the public the pain, humiliation, and abuse that animals endure, the saddest show on Earth had its last performance on Sunday, May 21!
But the fight to end animal abuse in circuses isn’t over. Here are six circuses that still mistreat animals:
UniverSoul contracts with notorious animal trainers who’ve repeatedly failed to meet even the minimum requirements outlined in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This circus has repeatedly worked with Mitchel Kalmanson, a big-cat exhibitor who confined big cats to cages so small that they couldn’t even move around comfortably. A handler even admitted that the animals were kept in the tiny cages 24/7, for up to seven weeks—or even longer.
If that wasn’t bad enough, exhibitor Larry Carden has been using elephants Cindy, Betty, and Bo in UniverSoul performances. Both Betty and Bo have repeatedly tested reactive on blood tests for tuberculosis, meaning that it’s highly likely that they carry the disease, which is transmissible to humans.
In addition, zebras recently escaped from the circus twice and dashed into busy streets.
— PETA (@peta) March 21, 2016
UniverSoul is known for having some of the best human talent around. It should use willing human performers only and eliminate all animal acts from its shows.
Carson & Barnes has received numerous AWA violations for failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care and living space as well as giving them unclean water and inadequate ventilation, among other inhumane practices. While performing with three elephants from Carson & Barnes, employees of the Royal Hanneford Circus encouraged audience members to make loud noises, which stressed out one elephant and caused her to escape from her handlers, resulting in multiple lacerations and painful scrapes to her side. Another elephant was also badly injured and sustained multiple lacerations.
Carson & Barnes’ head trainer—who still works with the circus—was caught on camera viciously attacking elephants with a bullhook (a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker), shocking them with an electric prod, and ordering trainers to dig sharp metal hooks into the elephants’ flesh until they screamed in agony.
Garden Bros. Circus has a long history of putting both animals and the public at risk. It contracts with outside exhibitors, such as Carson & Barnes Circus, that have notoriously failed to meet minimum federal AWA standards. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Garden Bros. Circus exhibitors for forcefully striking an elephant with a bullhook.
On the plus side, after being contacted by PETA and learning about Garden Bros. Circus’ sordid history, officials in Winchester and Norfolk, Virginia, chose not to allow elephants to perform or be displayed during the circus’s planned visits to those cities. We’d like to see others get inspired by their compassionate decision and do the same!
Kelly Miller Circus has been cited for its failure to handle animals in a way that’s safe for both animals and the public. During a performance, a USDA inspector saw the circus’s long-time animal exhibitor Carolyn Rice use an electric prod on zebras and camels.
Days after Ringling announced that it’ll soon be closing, the general manager of Kelly Miller, Tavana Brown, boasted that her circus is “owned by the only Ringling still alive in the United States” and that “it’s never going to go away because people want to see it.” Well, people don’t want to see animals suffer or be forced to perform mindless tricks. It’s time for this sad circus to go.
A big-cat exhibitor with a Shrine circus in Springfield, Missouri, was cited for a whopping five animal-welfare violations, including endangering the public, denying tigers adequate space, and transporting animals in a dirty vehicle with a “foul odor,” flies and maggots, and a build-up of what appeared to be hair, food waste, and excreta.
If you can’t imagine being forced to endure such conditions, how do you think animals feel?
Jordan World Circus no longer has its own license and instead uses animals from notorious exhibitors, such as Carson & Barnes and the Carden family.
The footage below, taken outside a Jordan World Circus venue, shows a Carson & Barnes handler cursing at an elephant and tugging her ear with a bullhook.
What You Can Do
This year is already looking like a huge win for animals. Let’s keep the momentum going and leave the animal tricks in the past—never go to a circus that uses animals.