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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Circus Sent Packing

Published 04/16/08
By Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., Senior Vice President

I have been writing, introducing, and passing legislation and regulations to help captive elephants for years. It is not every day that you can say your efforts helped kick a circus out of town. But that is exactly what happened last week.

The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services ordered Circus Vazquez to stop displaying the elephants at its circus because it failed to meet the new permit restrictions that were adopted earlier this year. The permit restrictions, which I assisted in writing, apply to any person or entity seeking to display an elephant or other dangerous wild animal within city limits.

The circus was using Will Davenport’s elephants — Queenie, Jewel, and Tina. Mr. Davenport has a long history of animal mistreatment toward these elephants and has been cited for numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Some of the violations include: inadequate veterinary care, inhumane handling and the "inappropriate and abusive use of the ankus and such use is likely to cause trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm or unnecessary discomfort..."

One of the new permit requirements states that any person or entity displaying dangerous wild animals must not have been “cited within 5 years by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Animal welfare Act for 1) inappropriate provision of veterinary care 2) inappropriate handling of animals causing stress or trauma, or 3) inappropriate provision of food, water, or shelter." Clearly, this requirement was not met by Mr. Davenport.

In fact, every circus that uses animals has been cited under the Animal Welfare Act for at least one if not all three of these areas. Let's hope that this is the last circus to ever perform in the city of Los Angeles.

This is one of those rare moments when you feel that the law is truly working to help protect animals. My thanks go to the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services for taking a strong stand on this issue.

But our work is far from over. Queenie, Tina, and Jewel received a few days off, but they are still being carted to various cities in the country to perform stupid and unnatural tricks. Please take action to end the use of wild and exotic animals in circuses and traveling shows.


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