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Local Fire Department Should Host a Carnival, Not a Circus

An animal advocate voices her concerns about the animal cruelty and public safety issues associated with circuses

I have the utmost respect and admiration for the men and women who risk their lives as firefighters; my father was a volunteer fireman for 35 plus years; that being said, this letter bears no disrespect to the Forked River Fire Department and the tremendous and invaluable service they provide their community. As someone who respects animals and cares about their welfare, I feel it's important to raise awareness for animals who have no voice and who need our advocacy and protection, as well as point out the public safety issues involved when

In July of 2011 the USDA filed charges against the Cole Bros. Circus for numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act including “failure to provide veterinary care to an emaciated elephant, failure to handle an elephant in a way that minimized the risk of harm to the public and the elephant, handlers who lacked the training and knowledge to handle tigers and elephants in public, and selling tigers without a dealer license.” These violations should have resulted in a substantial fine, but on April 9, 2012, Cole Bros. reached a $15,000 settlement with the USDA for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

As of February 2008, Cole Bros. no longer has its own USDA license and leases animal acts from other circuses, including Carson & Barnes Circus which the USDA fined for elephant abuse after employees were caught on videotape beating elephants with bullhooks and shocking them with electric prods.

Many of the animal acts used by Cole Bros. have been cited by the USDA for numerous violations including failing to provide veterinary care. In 2011, Cole Bros. and its president pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act by illegally selling two Asian elephants and were sentenced to probation and ordered to pay more than $150,000 in fines.

A Cole Brothers Fact Sheet can be found here.

The current elephant "handler/trainer" with Cole Brothers is Tim Frisco, notorious for his brutal “training” of elephants. Click here for a video.

Animals in circuses and traveling shows suffer horrific abuse, cruelty, neglect and exploitation. Magnificent big cats like lions and tigers are housed in cramped cages, majestic elephants are shackled and chained in trucks and train box cars; “training” methods utilize violence, fear, and intimidation to make animals perform ridiculous unnatural stunts. Not only is the physical abuse appalling, but the deprivation of any natural behaviors, choices and instincts is cruel.

These animals also pose threats to public safety and health. They are forced to live in conditions contrary to their nature and are deprived their basic needs; this coupled with the abuse, neglect and cruelty they endure causes severe stress and mental anguish. Elephants exhibit stereotypical behaviors such as swaying back and forth and bobbing their heads, big cats like tigers and lions pace incessantly, bite the bars of their cages and even engage in self mutilation.

Animals are understandably driven mad - thus leading to escapes and rampages that put the safety of the public in danger. Elephants in the circus may carry tuberculosis (TB), a bacterial disease that can infect humans. Public records show that many circuses have a history of elephants with tuberculosis and have used TB-positive elephants in public performances.

Circuses that utilize animals epitomize animal cruelty - not family entertainment. There is no educational value to children who watch unnatural tricks performed by wild animals. It does not teach children the true nature of these animals or to respect and appreciate them, only that it is acceptable to mistreat and exploit animals for entertainment purposes.

Countries around the world, as well as municipalities in the United States, have partial or full bans on circus with animals. On November 2, 2011, Congressman Jim Moran introduced The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act, H.R. 3359, a bill that is extremely vital to the lives of these animals, to ending this cruelty and ensuring the safety of the public. This federal bill would amend the A.W.A. to restrict the use of exotic and non-domesticated animals in circuses and traveling shows.

The overwhelming evidence and documentation of the abuse animals endure in circuses is irrefutable. The more knowledgeable the public becomes about the suffering of circus animals and the serious safety issues involved with using dangerous animals in performances, the less inclined they will be to support, promote, employ and attend circuses that abuse and exploit animals.

I encourage the Fire Department to employ animal-free events for their fundraiser such as a carnival. If we all make a more informed and compassionate choice we can end this abuse and cruelty.

Darlene De Santis

patchmeup August 08, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Since the Cole Bros circus was still somewhat in the area (Mays Landing) I decided to to do some investigative work because this article intrigued me. I took a ride down there and actually interviewed the elephants that are currently performing in the circus. According to the herd, they all say that they always get their routine check-ups with a licensed veterinarian and that the rumor about being denied care was actually just a horrible rumor put out there by a rival circus to discourage people from going to see them with the Cole Bros. No elephants were harmed during the interviews.
BanCircusAnimals August 08, 2012 at 08:01 PM
@William J Moss: Cole Bros. Circus is appearing throughout southern NJ in the month of August. They were in Forked River Saturday and Sunday, Seaside Heights Monday and Tuesday and are now in May's Landing. They travel from mid-March to the end of November, appx. 10,000 miles, 90-100 cities, and typically perform two shows a day, 3 on Saturdays, 7 days a week. They are now traveling with 4 adult female elephants, a 5 year old baby named Val who performs, and a 1 year old baby named Hugo who is “learning “ the ropes of the road under the hand, or should I say bullhook, of Tim Frisco. Tigers are kept in pairs in transport cages with enough room to stand and turn around in- this is where they eat, sleep, and relieve themselves - the only time they are out these cages are the few minutes they perform. When the circus packs up and moves to its next destination the tigers are loaded like mere cargo into a tractor-trailer with equipment and props, elephants are chained in semi-trailers and the ponies are packed into trailers as well. We can end this abuse and cruelty by supporting HR 3359 http://breakthechainus.com/
3y3h34rtCl1ft0n August 09, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I have a strong suspicion that kenny p was a troll, so I wouldn't get too riled up here, people. That said, circuses that use wild animals are disgusting. My workplace sold the tickets last year--I was shocked at how many people in this town would support such a thing. People never cease to amaze me.
JOHNNY Done it November 25, 2012 at 03:10 AM
MAYBE , instead of blasting the fire company for having the circus which makes money & the kids & the adults like it,,,TRY 3 options ..1 donate to the fire company(s) giving them more than you would normally would so they wouldnt look for additional sources....2 Have a paid emergency services .3 Write to the losers you voted into office to change the laws larger fines to cut into their profits..& give the USDA more powers to shut them down .....IF you nothing other than complain here live with it....The kids love the circus & the parents are going to make the kids happy causing a demand for a circus
3y3h34rtCl1ft0n November 25, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Day late and a dollar short, no?

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