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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

Michelle August 08, 2012 at 11:44 AM
I completely agree. There are many other options for an entertainment related fundraiser. Why not partner with Popcorn Park Zoo to do a fundraiser? Or, like the author stated, a carnival? If someone really wants to enjoy a circus, there are animal free circuses that can be just as fun.
Kenneth Paszkewicz August 08, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Get a life. The circus is the best environment for the animals!!!!! Feed daily cleaned up all day long . I love the Cole circus. Kenny.P
GB Shore August 08, 2012 at 01:13 PM
The author of the article haqs some pretty clear and factual evidence. How you can make a statement like it is the best environment is too broad and has no bearing on the two circus companies mentioned. Perhaps Ringling Brothers might treat their animals well, but I do no know for sure. I just see facts presented here in the Cole Brothers and a claim that this is the best environment makes one wonder if you read the whole article and reviewed the accompanying links.
Elaine Piniat (Editor) August 08, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Sorry, everyone. This Letter to the Editor was published with my byline by accident. It was originally written and submitted by Darlene De Santis. The correction has been made.
Ellie August 08, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Shame on the parents who ignore all the evidences of this circus animal abuse to keep the circus nostalgia alive for their children. If they told their children the truth about the animals they love you wouldn't be able to drag a child to the Big Top.
Ellie August 08, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Videos of Ringling’s baby elephants being trained behind closed doors. www.ringlingbeatsanimals.com Watch undercover footage of elephants being beaten by employees of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Dr. Joyce Poole has studied elephants for over 40 years and she has made a formal comment on this footage which can be read here: Poole, J. 2009. Statement regarding PETA recent footage Ringling Brothers Circus (93.52 kB) http://www.elephantvoices.org/news-media-a-reports/97-welfare/660-new-footage-confirms-ringling-elephant-abuse.html
ed crowley August 08, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Guess there will be no animal products at the carnival.
kevin sullivan August 08, 2012 at 05:33 PM
here are a few facts for kenny paskweiz who is still clinging to the memory of the balloon the clown blew up for him at the circus last weekend. cole bros just paid a $15,000 fine to the usda for denying two underweight elephants as well as the rest of their animals access to a vet. its not like cole doesnt have the money the admission to get in is $21 and $25 for 3 daily shows at least 6 days a week. the average crowd is at minimum 150 people per show and yet they cant pay a vet? . they have a long list of violations including not supply adequate water or trailers that arent 140 degrees inside. they buy and sell tigers without a license to do so. they arent even allowed to own their own elephants they lease (or rent) them from other circuses who are doing the same abuses but havent been caught yet. to cole bros a $15,000 fine is simply the cost of doing business they can make that amount back in one show. in a perfect world goobers like kenny paskweizc would end up on you tube after being trampled to death as so many other videos have shown when one of these tortured animals finally snaps.
Winston Smith August 08, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Spoken like a true schmuck
kevin sullivan August 08, 2012 at 05:42 PM
tom c who was your comment directed at?
Animal Compassionate August 08, 2012 at 05:47 PM
This is NOT the best environment for these animals! They are under constant fear of pain, it's the only way to control wild animals. I have personally witnessed the cruelty of this circus. Here is the trainer from last year John Walker III aka John Caudill dragging one of the elephants around the ring as she trumpets in pain. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx4hC7OOuek The tigers are kept in those tiny transportation cages the entire time they are on the road. It's not like they take them for a walk to stretch their legs. The ponies and camels are tied so tightly to the truck that they can not move! How in the world is that the best environment? These animals are not loved by their owners they are mere machines to them here to do a job. So what if they are fed. We provide housing and food for prisoners yet that is the worst punishment we have for criminals besides killing them. These animals are living in a jail yet they committed no crime.
Forked River Mom August 08, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Aside from all the physical abuse, these animals are crammed in cages or chained where they spend the majority of their lives. How can you sit there, Kenny P, and say that this is the best environment for these animals? I'm not a crazy animal rights activist, I am just an average person like the rest of us who think what they do behind closed doors is obscene! These trainers have absolutely no heart! Aside from that, I'm sure the Fire Department doesn't realize all that goes on behind closed doors. They're just looking to have a fundraiser and probably figure having a circus is a good way to bring in some money. Maybe they'll reconsider after reading this article.
Winston Smith August 08, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Directed at KP....check my history..more then 1 anti circus comment
kevin sullivan August 08, 2012 at 06:15 PM
i thought so tom c . i just wanted everyone else to know it too. i was in seaside hts monday night and ended up taking a look for myself. 6 seaside hts cops dealing with traffic. who paid for their ot to be there all day up to 10 pm? the locals were pissed off because they werent allowed to drive left or right but had to drive to pelican island if they wanted to make a u turn to get to where they were going or were staying. . i saw many drunks and rowdies stagger from the boardwalk to make their way up to the circus yelling, cursing etc. the perfect atmosphere for kids and animals alike.
Susan Haughey August 08, 2012 at 06:23 PM
The woman who wrote this letter is absolutely right and is stating facts about these animal circuses! These cicuses encourage and promote animal abuse! It teaches kids and unknowing adults that it's okay to confine, beat, and force animals to do unnatural acts. Please don't have animal circuses!!!!!!
Susan Haughey August 08, 2012 at 06:30 PM
KP, u need to "give a life"!! Those animals have a horrible life! Traveling in cramped conditions in uncomfortable temperatures, beaten, n forced to perform tricks for stupid human entertainment! God did not put these animals here to live such horrible lonely lives!
kevin sullivan August 08, 2012 at 07:38 PM
bill moss as usual you get it wrong again. cole bros circus was in lacey sat and sun. on monday and tuesday it was in seaside hts. newsflash bill moss i have lived in forked river for 30 yrs . maybe you should just go back to your endless "this is how much the schools take in taxes and this is how little the town committe takes" in your endless adoration of a town committee who has driven this town into debt while you praise them. moss stick to what you know before staggering into threads you have no clue about.
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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