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We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704


DEC Fine for Circus Group

30 July 2013

[Watch Circus Elephants Training and Tragedy and note the turned-around bullhook CLEARLY VISIBLE in the 'trainer's' hand.  This sharp-ended instrument is used to beat elephants into submission; and these animals remember the beating when they see it - . This purveyor, like every circus exploiter, has numerous violations, including improper nutrition and repeated failure to provide veterinary care to elephants with open wounds on their head and legs - see PETA's report on George Carden Circus International - PDF.]

RAMAPO — A Missouri-based circus group that trucked in two Asian elephants to perform for hundreds of children from local summer camps was ticketed Tuesday, charged with possession of a threatened or endangered species without the required state permit.

The elephant handler, William Morris of Florida, was leasing the elephants from George Carden Circus International of Springfield, Mo., and hadn’t applied for a New York state permit until midway through a set of three shows in Viola Park, a Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman said. /p>

 The DEC immediately issued the permit but advised Morris that public contact with the massive animals and rides are prohibited in New York.

“Today was the last day Mr. Morris was going to be conducting any elephant shows in New York state,” DEC spokesman Peter Constantakes said Tuesday. /p>

The circus group drew officials’ scrutiny after an initial performance Monday at the United Talmudical Academy in Spring Valley resulted in a permitting kerfuffle with the village that was reported by The Journal News.

Spring Valley officials said the school hadn’t applied for a permit and was in violation of a village zoning ordinance by hosting the two animals on its property at 89 S. Main St.

A resident also called the DEC about people riding the elephants at the school, spokeswoman Wendy Rosenbach said. The DEC is investigating that complaint.

UTA officials have declined to comment.

On Tuesday, a DEC officer showed up in Field 4 of Viola Park off West Maple Avenue just as hundreds of boys from local Jewish summer camps waited to watch the 4:15 p.m. elephant show.

The show eventually went on, with pachyderms Cindy and Jenny performing in a pen and playing tug of war with some of the older spectators.

Several hundred girls from the camps attended an earlier show, which involved a game of hula hoop and the use of the elephants’ hides as a chalkboard for the girls’ artwork.

Ramapo police were called and monitored the later show but did not file any charges after they learned that the Town of Ramapo issued a site use permit to officials from the Village of Kaser to host the elephants at the park.

“As long as they have insurance for the elephants, we’re happy to let them use our property,” Ramapo Parks and Recreation Director Michelle Antosca said.

The camps rent space in the parks all summer and host a special event for one or two days; the last three years they brought in parachuters, Antosca said.

Morris, the handler, said the George Carden group was hired for the private camp event Tuesday and had all the proper paperwork in order. He declined to say how much he was paid for the event.

He said he was aware of New York state DEC regulations that prohibit elephant rides and public contact with the animals but maintained that his conduct at the United Talmudical Academy property and in the park, which is open to the public and maintained by the Town of Ramapo, was in line with the law because he was hosting a private event.

“It’s not public contact. We’re not out in the public,” he said.

Morris said he had previously trained several men from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community to ride the elephants at other events, which is why they could safely ride them Monday at United Talmudical Academy.

Cindy, 38 years old, and Jenny, 42, are among 10 elephants in the George Carden stable that has headquarters in Springfield and in Tampa, Fla.

The animals were to head back into their blue trailer and make their way home after Tuesday’s shows wrapped up. The group, including Morris’ wife, also a handler, had appeared in Ramapo after finishing a show in New Brunswick, N.J.

It’s not the first time the George Carden Circus International group has drawn the attention of regulators.

The group was cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act during routine inspections at a show in Springfield in March 2011; violations involved a lack of supervision during elephant rides.

For more, visit Stop Traveling Animal Acts

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