Get The Facts:
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.
Animals used in the Carson & Barnes Circus and other traveling acts travel thousands of miles each year without water, in railroad cars or trucks not air-conditioned in summer or heated in winter. Elephants are forced to stand in their own waste, chained in place for up to 100 hours while being transported from one performance to another. These performing animals do not receive the proper care, nutrition, and environmental enrichment required for their well-being.
Carson & Barnes has failed to meet minimal federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibition as established in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Carson & Barnes numerous times for failure to provide veterinary care, adequate shelter from the elements, and proper food and water, as well as failure to handle animals in a manner that prevents trauma and harm and ensures public safety.
Insulation in a wall separating six Asian elephants from a mother elephant and her calf is damaged and missing in several places, preventing the area from being adequately cleaned to prevent disease transmission. (USDA Inspection Report)
APHIS inspectors observed Carson & Barnes putting the public at risk while performing as the Kelly Miller Circus by not having the elephants under the direct control of their handlers.
Some Recent Incidents Involving Animals at Carson & Barnes Circuses:
Two bull elephants did not have sufficient access to shade. Regulations state all animals should have adequate shade to protect them from direct sunlight at all times.
Perimeter fence was not properly fitted to protect both the animals and the public.
USDA APHIS inspectors cited the circus for having no physical barrier in place to prevent the public from approaching the elephants per regulation and observed several people standing in close proximity to the elephants placing the public in danger.
APHIS inspectors also observed a man walk up to one of the elephants and held the animal's trunk for several seconds, placing the man and elephant in danger. Per regulation, there must be a sufficient barrier between the elephant and the public and the handler in complete control of his animal at all times.
During the elephant rides, there were many times when the elephant handlers were distracted away from their animals both during the rides and when not giving rides. In one instance, one elephant had one adult and six young children in the saddle during the ride when her handler answered his cell phone. The handler continued to talk on the phone as he walked away from the elephant, leaving the animal with the people still on unattended. The elephant continued the ride without supervision.
A unqualified employee with no previous experience with elephants, who also performs in the show, was observed using excessive force while tugging at the elephant with the ankus (or bullhook), demonstrating her lack of experience and control over the animal.
A pygmy hippo was noted to have skin abrasions that appeared reddened and raw, which had not been noted by the caretaker or reported to the circus manager. Attending veterinarian had not been contacted regarding appropriate care for these lesions.
Two outdoor enclosures, one for 10 goats and one that housed two llamas, one alpaca and one donkey had no shade to protect the animals from direct sunlight with temperatures up to 85 degrees. Goats with black coats in particular were noted to be breathing heavily.
The hay for the goats, zebra, zebu, llamas and alpacas was placed on the ground with excreta among them.
The trailer used as the primary conveyance for two camels, one alpaca, two llamas, one zebra, one zebu, nine goats and one hippo has a cracked plastic panel with shap edges that could hurt the animals. This is a repeat non-compliance.
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to maintain a trailer that was being used to transport a hippopotamus, a zebra, two camels, an alpaca, two llamas, a zebu and nine goats. A rubber mat was covering a hole that was at least 8 inches in diameter and was just inside the door through which the animals would enter and exit the trailer. The inspector wrote, “This may lead to injury of the animals’ feet or legs if they stepped through the hole.” (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to provide shelter to three elephants, Lisa, Becky and Traci. The inspector wrote, “The weather was 50 degrees and drizzling rain for most of the day. The elephants were out in the cold rain with no protection from the inclement weather.” Carson & Barnes was also cited for failure to provide sufficient fencing to safely contain the elephants as well as for insufficient security measures to prevent public access to the elephants. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to correct previously identified violation of not having valid tuberculosis tests for two of the three elephants. The USDA also cited the circus for failure to handle animals so that there is minimal risk of harm to animals and to the public. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to provide adequate veterinary care to the three elephants. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to use appropriate methods prevent, control, diagnose and treat diseases and injuries. The inspector noted that the tuberculosis testing on the three elephants was not valid and not adequate to diagnose potential disease. (USDA Inspection Report)
Carson & Barnes is cited by the USDA for failing to construct and maintain enclosures to properly contain dogs and cats securely. Portable enclosure height was not tall enough to prevent a dog jumping over it, and space between vertical bars was too wide. One dog escaped the enclosure while the USDA inspector was present. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cites Carson & Barnes for failing to establish and maintain a program of adequate veterinary care for the three Asian elephants at this location. These elephants were on tour with Universoul Circus at the time of inspection. Records indicated that foot care on Becky, Tracy, and Lisa was last completed in March 2006. The inspector noted that both Becky and Tracy had cracks on two toes on both hind legs that extend up the nail about ¼ inch from the cuticle. She indicated that foot care should be done as often as necessary to maintain a healthy foot — to minimize cracks in the nails and prevent infection. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cites Carson & Barnes for failing to provide access and inspection of records and property. The inspector noted that the program of veterinary care and results of human TB tests were not available, indicating that it was necessary to verify that there is a formal arrangement with a veterinarian for care, and verify that humans are being tested for TB. (USDA Inspection Report)
Carson & Barnes was cited by the USDA for failure to provide shelter that was appropriate to the climatic conditions, that would afford adequate protection (e.g. from rain and sun) and prevent discomfort for the animals. The inspector noted that the tent that serves as a shelter for the elephants had multiple small holes and a few medium holes and needed to be repaired or replaced. This inspection occurred during the elephants’ tour with Universoul Circus. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to handle the elephants so there is minimal risk to both the animals and the public, including providing sufficient distance and/or barriers between the animals and the public. It was noted that the elephants (Suzy, Becky, and Tracy) are bathed in an area within the circus perimeter fence that is in front of a gate that is unlocked, and often open and unattended — which leads into a mall parking lot. This perimeter fence was noted to be an inadequate barrier between the elephants and the public to ensure the prevention of harm to the animals or the public. This inspection occurred during the elephants’ tour with Universoul Circus. (USDA Inspection Report)
Carson & Barnes says a clerical error resulted in advertisements that Baby Jennie, its first live elephant birth, would be performing center stage at upcoming shows. Jennie died in April. (See entry for 04/12/04.) (Ukiah Daily Journal)
Baby Jennie, a 5-year-old endangered Asian elephant calf, died from elephant herpes virus. Jennie was Carson & Barnes’s first live birth from its breeding program. Allegations are made that Jennie’s illness is attributed to the stress of being separated from her mother too early and being sent on the road to perform at just 16 months of age. It is reported that Carson & Barnes commingles Asian and African elephants and it is possible for African elephants to carry the virus in a dormant state, only to pass it on to Asian elephants, resulting in their death. (Ukiah Daily Journal, Carson & Barnes Press Release accessed 05/11/04)
A Carson & Barnes truck carrying two elephants overturned in Rhinebeck, NY on the way to a performance scheduled later that day. Three people were sent to the hospital and the road was closed while emergency workers freed the trapped elephants and placed them in another truck. The show opened as scheduled. (Poughkeepsie Journal)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to have an attending veterinarian and failure to provide adequate veterinary care to Paula, an African elephant with chronic skin problems. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to have adequate perimeter fencing at its winter quarters that keeps animals in and unauthorized people out. The inspector also noted that Paula, an African elephant, still had very rough skin that was not improving and that the elephant named Libby has a growth on her side. (USDA Inspection Report)
Federal authorities received an undercover videotape from an animal advocacy organization of an elephant training session. The video shows Carson & Barnes’s animal care director beating the elephants with a bullhook and shocking them with an electric prod while he instructs other trainers that the only way to get the elephants’ attention is to make them scream. The video also shows a handler using a blowtorch to remove the elephants’ coarse hair, as well as stereotypic behavior exhibited by chained elephants and caged bears. (North Coast Journal Weekly, The Los Alamos Monitor, PETA)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to provide veterinary care to a zebu with overgrown hooves; failure to have 15 elephants under the direct control and supervision of a knowledgeable handler while children, parents, and teachers were present; overworking a camel used for rides; allowing a dog to run loose in the parking areas; failure to provide shelter to a pygmy hippopotamus, a zebu, a water buffalo, llamas, goats, and camels during gusty winds and rain showers; failure to provide minimum space and failure to afford species-specific behavior to elephants confined in transport trailers and other elephants chained by fore and rear legs; failure to provide minimum space and failure to provide species-specific behavior and species-appropriate exercise to big cats confined in travel cages; improper food storage; and expired meat. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to maintain the structural strength of its transport trailers to contain the animals and protect them from injury. The inspector also noted that Paula, an African elephant, still had very rough skin that was not improving, that an elephant named Libby has a growth on her side, and an elephant named Bunny has two growths on her left rear side. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to have available records showing elephant attendants, handlers, and grooms were tested for tuberculosis. (USDA Inspection Report)
Carson & Barnes was forced to cancel two shows after Anne Arundel County, MD, fire officials deemed its tent unsafe. The circus tent failed the inspectors' flame-spread test for fire safety. Inspectors also found problems with exit lightings and signs. (The Capital)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for shackling an elephant with a leg chain that did not have a protective covering such as a fire hose to protect the elephant’s leg. (USDA Inspection Report)
A USDA inspector noted that the elephant Libby has one growth on her side and the elephant Bunny has two growths on her left rear side. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to store food and bedding in a manner that prevents contamination by vermin, as well as failure to provide cages for bears that meet minimum space requirements. The enclosures did not provide adequate space for the bears to make normal postural and social adjustments with adequate freedom of movement while lying down. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to clean the cat meat storage container in a manner that prevents contamination. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to provide access for inspection of records, failure to review the Program of Vet Care by an attending veterinarian since 04/96, and inadequate storage of food. (USDA Inspection Report)
Carson & Barnes announced that its elephant Isa had given birth to a baby elephant named Jennie. According to a USDA inspection report dated 09/02/98, just four days before Jennie's birth, Isa was on the road giving elephant rides with Carson & Barnes’s sister circus, Kelly Miller Circus, in Logansport, IN. This indicates that Isa was subjected to the rigors of travel and performing while in advanced stages of pregnancy. (www.carsonandbarnes.com, USDA Inspection Report for Kelly Miller Circus)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to maintain transport enclosures for the tigers. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to maintain structurally sound fencing around exotic hoofed animals, failure to provide adequate drainage in a muddy water buffalo enclosure, failure to maintain the elephant transport trailers, and failure to provide adequate outdoor housing for the dogs used in circus acts. The inspector also noted that the elephant named Libby has a growth on her left rear side, the elephant Bunny has two growths on her left rear side, and the elephant Wimpy has a wound on his head between his eyes. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to correct a previously identified violation of not providing adequate ventilation in the elephant transport trailer. Carson & Barnes was also cited for failure to maintain the transport trailers for the large cats, a pygmy hippopotamus, llamas, goats, sheep, and other animals; failure to maintain and provide records of acquisition for the elephants; and improper food storage. The inspector also noted that several of the elephants were showing slight to moderate overgrowth of callous on the edges of their feet. The inspector also noted that correction for foot care or other veterinary needs for the animals shall continue with daily monitoring at a minimum and the advice of an attending veterinarian shall be sought if needed. (USDA Inspection Report)
After an investigation in Colorado, Cindy Machado, a humane investigator with the Marin Humane Society, reported, “I watched animals become injured with blood dripping down their legs without being treated. There were ponies and horses with open, draining saddle sores that were still being ridden.” Officer Machado also reported inadequate and inhumane restraints on animals; stress-induced behaviors such as horses rearing, camels fighting, and elephants rocking and swaying; as well as non-compliance with federal regulations. She presented a series of photographs, saying she had seen snakes in overcrowded cages, elephants with soccer-ball-sized boils, and a pygmy hippo, who by nature requires water, living in a rusty pan without water — a scene she said that “brought tears to my eyes.” She called the conditions in which the animals live, the “most appalling” conditions in her 14 years with the Marin Humane Society. (San Francisco Examiner, Marin Independent Journal)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to provide adequate ventilation in the elephant transport trailers. In several of the vehicles, no cross ventilation is available. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to make necessary repairs to a tiger transport trailer to prevent injury to the animals. The circus was also cited for failing to provide an exercise plan for the dogs, as well as keeping the dogs on too short a tether and, therefore, failing to provide minimum space. (USDA Inspection Report)
The USDA cited Carson & Barnes for failure to provide veterinary treatment to more than half of the elephants who needed foot care. (USDA Inspection Report)
A Carson & Barnes tiger named Shawana squeezed out of her enclosure and was missing for 10 days. A helicopter pilot finally spotted her curled up just inside heavily forested Kiamichi Park, near Carson & Barnes’s winter quarters. She was shot with a tranquilizer and returned to captivity. (Associated Press, Chicago Tribune)
Kay, a 58-year-old elephant, died while on tour with Carson & Barnes. Kay suffered from a kidney ailment and died backstage before she was about to perform. (www.roadsideamerica.com, The State Journal-Register)
Five elephants bolted from the circus, ran a short distance and fell off a 25-foot ledge into a coal pit. One elephant was killed. The elephants ran away while circus employees were preparing to move their equipment for another show. (Associated Press)