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August 26, 2013

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Cole Bros. Circus Condemned

August 14, 2013
Danielle Hanna, exclusive to Global Animal

Cole Bros. circus condemned
Animal welfare protesters in Oceanside, NY warn circus visitors of the animal cruelty their dollars will support. Photo credit: Christina Daly / Herald

The Cole Bros. Circus is coming to town, but please don’t bring the kids!

This circus has been traveling around the country since 1884, showing off the abilities of amazing animals. However, how many circus visitors have any idea what’s happening on the other side of the curtain?

The company has been cited repeatedly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for “failure to correct previously identified noncompliance,” blatantly disregarding laws of minimum standards of care and procedures to help alleviate the medical issues of dangerously underweight elephants.

Besides failing to adequately care for the animals in terms of living conditions, veterinary care, and acceptable forms of discipline in training, Cole Bros. Circus has also been cited for failing to supervise animals in a way that is safe for the animals and the public.

There have been instances recorded where the handler turned his back or even walked away while members of the public were within reach of—or even riding on—elephants, or where only one handler was left to supervise two elephants. Inexperienced or unknowledgable handlers paired with potentially dangerous wild animals is a recipe for disaster.

In 1995, a 450-pound white tiger in the circus’ care escaped and proceeded to frighten crowds of visitors to a nearby park in Queens, NY. The madness caused by the tiger’s escape included many screaming onlookers, a 30-minute pursuit by armed police officers, a five-car pileup, and a $60 million lawsuit filed by individuals injured in the car wreck.

In 2012, Cole Bros. Circus was required by the USDA to pay $15,000 for violations of the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 (AWA) which outlines the minimum requirements for care and treatment of animals used for research or exhibition.

Cole Bros. circus condemned
Circus customers walk by protesters on their way to the Cole Bros. Circus. Photo credit: Calista Condo, Gloucester County Times

The Cole Bros. Circus President and CEO, John Pugh, plead guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act in 2011 for selling two endangered Asian elephants to a man who intended to use them for entertainment at private parties. The elephants, Jewel and Tina, were taken into federal custody and now live at the San Diego Zoo.

The company was sentenced to four years probation, fined $150,000 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and restricted from owning animals. The animals currently used for their traveling performances are rented from other companies such as Carson & Barnes Circus, which has also been fined by the USDA for AWA violations.

In Defense of Animals (IDA), a California-based organization, has filed complaints about the quality of care supplied by Cole Bros. Circus which resulted in a fine last year for “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, using handlers who lacked the training and knowledge to safely handle tigers and elephants in public, and illegal trafficking in tigers.”

The animal rights organization continues to request that the U.S. Department of Agriculture investigates the traveling circus’ procedures, especially with regard to two baby elephants, Val and Hugo, who have been separated from their mother.

“In general, animals forced to travel and perform in circuses are deprived of everything that is natural to them – room to roam, participation in family and social groupings, and any ability to exert choice and control over their lives,” said Deborah Robinson of IDA.

“This is particularly hard on animals like elephants, who naturally are on the move for most of the day, and who, in the wild, stay with their mothers for their entire lives, in the case of females, or at least until adolescence if they are males. By contrast, the elephants traveling with Cole, who are leased from Carson and Barnes Circus, spend their days on trucks, in chains or in tiny pens, and have all been taken from their mothers as babies,” Robinson continued.

Protesters have shown up at the circus doors in an attempt to educate visitors about the abuse circus animals face, and have been successful in changing the minds of some who decided to leave rather than support animal cruelty. Below is a list of upcoming circus dates, so you know when and where to take action.

Upcoming 2013 Cole Brothers Circus Datesfound at:http://www.globalanimal.org/2013/08/14/cole-bros-circus-condemned-by-animal-allies/105304/

Cole Brothers Circus Fact Sheet  - http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?p=429&more=1
(formerly Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus)

Performing captive wildlife — elephants, lions, tigers, bears, baboons, monkeys, camels, llamas — all endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering in traveling acts to “entertain” an uninformed audience.

Cole Bros. circus condemned
From GlobalAnimals.org

Recent Incidents Involving Animals at Cole Bros. Circuses:

2/23/11

Both Cole brothers along with John Pugh, owner of Cole Bros. Circus, pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act by illegally selling two Asian elephants named Tina and Jewel to a man who planned to use them for private parties and elephant rides. Cole Bros. Circus was sentenced to four years of probation and fined $150,000. John Pugh was sentenced to three years of probation, 100 hours of community service and ordered to pay $5,200. (United Press International)

6/7/10

The USDA cited Allen Brothers Circus, which was performing as Cole Bros. Circus, for failure to correct previously identified noncompliances including failure to demonstrate adequate experience and knowledge of the proper handling of dangerous wild or exotic animals, failure to have dangerous animals under the direct control and supervision of knowledgeable and experienced animal handler, failure to provide a travel itinerary, and failure to notify the USDA of a change in its business operations — specifically that it was now exhibiting tigers. The inspector wrote, "This puts the individual, public and the animals' safety at risk." The inspector also noted that Allen Brothers Circus appeared to be circumventing the license revocation of another exhibitor. (USDA Inspection Report)

5/4/10

The USDA cited Allen Brothers Circus, which was performing as Cole Bros. Circus, for failure to demonstrate adequate experience and knowledge of the proper handling of dangerous wild or exotic animals and failure to have dangerous animals under the direct control and supervision of a knowledgeable and experienced animal handler. The inspector wrote, "This puts the individual, public and the animals' safety at risk." The circus was also cited for failure to provide a travel itinerary as well as for failure to notify the USDA of a change in its business operations specifically that it was now exhibiting tigers. The USDA inspector noted that Allen Brothers Circus appeared to be circumventing the license revocation of another exhibitor. (USDA Inspection Report)

4/27/10

An elephant named Viola, who had been leased from Carson & Barnes to perform with Cole Bros., escaped in Lynchburg, Va. She bolted from her handlers and ran directly past a line of people waiting to buy tickets sending patrons running toward the parking lot. Viola injured her shoulder and broke a toenail when she slid in the mud and fell into a steep ravine. She was on the loose for approximately 30 minutes before being recaptured. The circus claimed that the elephant had been spooked by a rabbit. (NewsAdvance.com)

5/24/08

A Cole Bros. employee was arrested and charged with three counts of burglary and three counts of theft of movable property during the circus' appearance in Randolph, NC. (Township of Randolph News)

1/14/08

During an inspection at the Cole Bros. home facility, a USDA inspector noted, "The elephant area appears to be in the same condition as it was on the July 23, 2007, inspection." (USDA Inspection Report)

8/21/07

The USDA cited Cole Bros. exhibitor Hanneford Family Circus for failure to provide veterinary records documenting a birth deformity in an elephant named Liz, who was observed moving her right knee in a stiff manner. (USDA Inspection Report)

8/2/07

The USA cited Cole Bros. for failure to provide adequately trained employees for the elephant named Jewel given her poor physical condition. Cole Bros. also was cited for failure to maintain a corral used by the elephants (which was saturated with water and contained areas of large potholes) and failure to maintain the sanitation of an area near the elephants' holding area (which contained accumulations of burnt trash, circus cars, a trailer and a fragile wooden building , all of which were hazardous to the health of the animals. (USDA Inspection Report)

7/23/07

During an inspection at the Cole Bros. home facility, a USDA inspector noted, "The area used to house elephants is currently in need of a general cleanup. … The facility does not currently have an outdoor primary enclosure sufficient to securely contain elephants." (USDA Inspection Report)

6/5/07

The USDA cited Cole Bros. for failure to correct a previously identified noncompliance of not providing adequate veterinary care for elephants. Referring to the Texas facility housing elephants, Tina and Jewel, the inspector wrote that the lack of a permanent long-term housing facility that provides adequate shelter and enclosures jeopardizes the health of the animals and hinders their ability to gain weight." The inspector also wrote that the lack of sufficient ventilation in the barn housing the elephants can contribute to heat-related stress that also would adversely affect their health. The circus was also cited for failure to provide adequate shade in the elephants' outdoor enclosure and failure to ensure the structural strength of primary enclosures. (USDA Inspection Report)

05/15/07

The USDA cited Cole Bros. Circus for failure to provide adequate veterinary care for elephants Tina and Jewel. The inspector wrote that an elephant expert had determined that both Tina and Jewel “showed an alarming amount of weight loss and that Jewel was not fit to continue traveling with the circus.” (USDA Inspection Report)

04/10/07

The USDA cited Cole Bros. Circus again for failure to provide adequate veterinary care for Jewel, a chronically thin elephant. The inspector noted that Jewel’s “spine is prominent as is the pelvis. The areas above the eyes are very sunken. The neck appears very thin.” (USDA Inspection Report)

10/24/06

The USDA cited Cole Bros Circus for failure to provide adequate veterinary care for Jewel, one of their two elephants. The inspector noted that Jewel appeared underweight and that her sides appeared “sunken or hollowed out” and that “her spine is very prominent.” (USDA Inspection Report)

12/14/05

The USDA cited Cole Bros. Circus for failing to store supplies of food and bedding in a manner that adequately protects them against contamination. It was noted that a truck parked adjacent to hay being used to feed the animals was leaking oil (or similar lubricant), which had spread to the floor space under one of the palates of hay.

Cole Bros. was also cited in this inspection for failing to establish/maintain a safe and effective program of insect control. The inspector observed a camel named Chewy bothered by numerous flies on and around his face, nose and eyes — evidenced by constant head-shaking. Chewy was also noted to have a slight discharge from his left eye. (USDA Inspection Report)

08/25/05

A woman suffered a sprained wrist and possibly torn ligaments when an Asian elephant named Jewel on exhibit at Westmoreland Fair in Mt. Pleasant Township, PA grabbed her wrist with her trunk after the woman reached to pet her. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, News-Journal Corporation)

12/14/04

The USDA cited Cole Bros. Circus for failing to have medical records available for the camels in its care. The inspector noted that although the program of veterinary care for the camels includes annual vaccinations, and fecal exams and/or dewormings, there were no medical records to document any vaccinations, and any fecal exams and/or dewormings — making it impossible for the inspector to determine if the appropriate veterinary care is being provided to the camels.

Additionally, the USDA cited Cole Bros. for failing to maintain its perimeter fence in a manner that properly restricts the animals and that prevents unauthorized persons from being able to breach this fencing and gain contact with the animals.

The inspector noted that the perimeter fencing had sustained weather damage that allowed the inspector to push the fence and posts over with one hand, and also had a gap that was large enough to allow a person to enter the facility. (USDA Inspection Report)

07/31/04

Apollo, a 7-year-old white Bengal tiger, escaped from Cole Bros. Circus while the circus was performing in Forest Park, NY. The 450-pound tiger took a half-mile stroll around the Queens section of the city, the sight of him causing a multi-car accident on the Jackie Robinson Parkway that injured four adults and one child. Apollo was eventually coaxed back into his cage. This is the second escape of Cole Bros. animals from Forest Park (see elephant incident 07/11/95) (Associated Press)

06/23/04

The USDA cited Cole Bros. Circus (in an inspection of its animals on tour with Walker Bros. Circus) for failing to handle its animals in a manner that does not cause trauma, stress, physical harm, or unnecessary discomfort for an incident involving an elephant called Jewel.

An eyewitness observed an elephant handler beating Jewel about the head and face, which caused her to grunt and then also make a higher pitched sound. Three inspector-veterinarians were sent in response to the police complaint filed by the eyewitness. When questioned by an inspector, the handler admitted to having hit Jewel with a plastic PVC pipe, around 1 inch in diameter. The inspectors noted an area of lighter gray, abnormal looking skin over the bony areas of Jewel’s forehead and an area of red tissue over her left eye.

During this inspection, the USDA also cited Cole Bros. for failing to maintain the facilities for the camels in a structurally sound manner that would contain the animals and protect them from injury. Inspectors noted that there was a gap in the fencing large enough for a camel to get through, and that the camels were wearing their halters while in the enclosure — which could potentially cause injury to the animals if caught on the support poles of the fencing.

Cole Bros. Circus was cited for failing to maintain required aspects of its veterinary care program. This included notes from the inspector that the written Program of Veterinary Care had not been signed or dated, this program did not provide the necessary information in its section on euthanasia (e.g. appropriate dosages for each species, appropriate vein to use for each species), and that two new employees working with the elephants had not been TB-tested — in accordance with the disease prevention and control plan in this program. (USDA Inspection Report)

05/06/04

Faced with dwindling audiences, sliding profits, and increased pressure from animal advocacy organizations highlighting their violations of the Animal Welfare Act, Cole Bros. Circus joined the growing number of traveling circuses deciding against using elephants in their shows. However, Cole Bros. will continue to rent out its two remaining elephants, Tina and Jewel, for television commercials and other performances, including Republican party events. (Baltimore Sun, The Enterprise)

05/03/04

The USDA cited Cole Bros. Circus for not promptly notifying the regional USDA office of its name change from Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. The inspector noted that notification of changes in operation, including name changes, are essential to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act. This inspection was conducted for animals on tour with the Walker Bros. Circus. (USDA Inspection Report)

02/05/04

Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus was cited by the USDA for failing to maintain appropriate veterinary care for its animals. The inspector noted that the two llamas had overgrown hooves, and that one llama had a callus on the bridge of its nose underneath its halter. He also noted that a camel had discharge from its left eye and that flies were attracted to this area and causing discomfort for the camel.

The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failing to maintain its animal enclosures properly. The inspector noted that there were several holes and splintering in the wood stall used to house the llamas — indicating that this deterioration could cause injury to the animals.

Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. was cited for failing to provide sufficient shade to protect animals from overheating or discomfort from direct sunlight. It was noted that no shade was provided for the camels, aside from a few nearby trees which would only offer some protection during the later part of the day.

The USDA also cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for not making all records available for inspection.


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