Hawthorn Elephants in Danger of Ending Up With Circus
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Hawthorn Elephants in Danger of Ending Up With Circus

By Kelly Colbert, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
May 2005

PETA has learned that five of the 12 elephants with the Hawthorn Corporation will be sent to the Carson & Barnes Circus “Endangered Ark Foundation.” Instead of finding a permanent reprieve from the abusive circus industry at a sanctuary, these elephants will continue to suffer in a circus, where beatings and extreme confinement are routine.

Carson & Barnes has a lengthy history of animal abuse and neglect and has been cited numerous times for failure to provide veterinary care and at least eight times since 1995 for failing to maintain its animal-transport trailers. Carson & Barnes has paid nearly $1,000 to avoid further action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in two separate alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

The circus paid $550 following an investigation of an incident in which a circus trailer carrying two elephants overturned in June 2003, injuring the elephants. Carson & Barnes paid $400 for mishandling elephants in violation of the AWA as a result of video in which Tim Frisco, the circus’s animal care director, was caught on tape viciously attacking and shocking terrified elephants. Frisco instructs other trainers to hurt the elephants until they scream and to sink a sharp, metal bullhook into their flesh and twist it. Frisco also cautions that the beatings must be concealed from the public.

In April 2004, Carson & Barnes’ 5-year-old, endangered Asian elephant, Jennie, died after contracting a herpes virus carried by African elephants. Jennie’s death might have been prevented if Carson & Barnes had followed even the most basic guidelines for elephant care. The circus subjected Jennie to the rigors of forceful training, performance, and travel at just 16 months of age, stressing her delicate immune system. Despite the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s recommendation that Asian and African elephants not be caged together because of disease risks from this deadly virus, Carson & Barnes recklessly commingles the two species. Now, Jennie’s brother Obert is forced to perform tricks on tour. He is less than two years old.

It is stunning that the USDA would have approved placement for these elephants with proven elephant beaters when The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is prepared to take all of the female elephants in September 2005, following completion of a new barn.


Letters to the USDA are urgently needed. Please write short, polite letters to the Secretary of Agriculture insisting that the USDA place the elephants at The Elephant Sanctuary and implement its consent decision by revoking Hawthorn’s license to exhibit animals:

The Honorable Michael O. Johanns
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building
12th Street and Jefferson Drive S.W., Rm. 200-A
Washington, DC 20250
agsec@usda.gov 
202-720-3631
202-720-2166 (fax)

Also, please write short, polite letters to your two federal senators and member of Congress. Let them know that while the USDA is to be commended for forcing Hawthorn to relinquish its elephants after serious and chronic violations of the AWA, the agency must act responsibly in placing these elephants in humane conditions at The Elephant Sanctuary. Contact information for your elected officials can be found at www.Congress.org/congressorg/home/ , simply by entering your zip code in the search box under “Write Elected Officials.” Read more about the Hawthorn Corporation.

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