The HSUS Calls for Shutdown of Circus Winterquarters
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The HSUS Calls for Shutdown of Circus Winterquarters


April 9, 2007

WASHINGTON - In a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture sent last week, The Humane Society of the United States is calling for the shutdown of Circus Winterquarters. The facility, which is in Macy, Ind., has been cited for recurring violations of the Animal Welfare Act for placing the animals housed there in dangerous and inhumane situations. The facility is the home base for the Von Uhl circus, which performs with the Shrine circuses in states including Florida and Georgia .

The letter was sent as the result of a massive Freedom of Information Act request by The HSUS, which revealed that for two years the USDA has allowed the poor conditions at the facility to exist without requiring that the operators provide relief for the animals.

According to USDA inspection reports reviewed by The HSUS, several USDA inspectors noted that no animal at Circus Winterquarters had sufficient space and all animals were showing poor muscle tone due to lack of exercise. These conditions did not change from 2004-2006 even though the operator had been given specific dates to correct the situation.

"We believe that the only positive outcome for these animals is to have them removed from the inhumane care that they are now receiving," said Don Elroy, director of wildlife advocacy for The HSUS. "This exhibitor's license should be revoked and he should be required to divest himself of all animals." The HSUS letter also requests that the operator be barred from being licensed under the Animal Welfare Act in the future.

Facts

According to the USDA reports acquired by The HSUS, lions and tigers at Circus Winterquarters remain in transport cages 5'x 8' and inspections noted that the cages did not appear to have been moved to allow access to an exercise area due to overgrown vegetation. Some large cats did not have room to stand and turn around.
USDA reports also show that Circus Winterquarters houses an African elephant in a 20'x 40' section of a barn and chained her with a chain so short that she cannot reach a dry place to lie down. Consequently, she was covered with substantial feces and urine. She also showed poor muscle tone. There was no documentation in the USDA reports showing veterinary treatment, trunk washes or foot care. According to the reports, the elephant was also subjected to poor conditions at her previous facility which resulted in their license revocation in a 1994 case.
In November of 2006, USDA offered Circus Winterquarters a settlement agreement to pay a $7,000 fine and be permitted to continue operating even though it was noted by USDA Director Elizabeth Goldentyre that there was no evidence of good faith in compliance.
A copy of The HSUS letter to the USDA is available on request.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization – backed by 10 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty -- On the web at www.humanesociety.org.


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