Garden Bros. Circus is cruel, dangerous

To the editor:

I was very disappointed to see that while numerous venues have been cutting ties with the Garden Bros. Circus, given their well-documented record of animal abuse and public endangerment, the Saranac Lake Civic Center is welcoming this notorious outfit (“Circus, with elephants, trumpets in Wednesday,” April 18).

According to government records, a handler with Garden Bros. admitted to forcefully striking an elephant in the face with a bull hook — a weapon resembling a fireplace poker that is designed to inflict pain. The head trainer for the outfit currently supplying Garden Bros.’ elephant act was caught on video screaming at elephants while violently attacking them with electric prods and bull hooks, and encouraging others to do the same. And the elephant handler now on the road with Garden Bros. was caught on video using the sharp, pointed tip of a bull hook to force an elephant’s head down while swearing at her. In another incident, he was caught hooking an elephant when she attacked another elephant in a circus ring after he completely lost control of the animals.

This was only one of many such perilous incidents. At least three elephants have escaped from Garden Bros., and the company supplying elephants for the circus has a long history of elephant escapes and recently paid yet another penalty for its chronic, unsafe handling of these dangerous animals.

Garden Bros. has also featured an elephant carrying tuberculosis. Elephants can transmit the disease to humans — even without direct contact, since it is airborne. Seven individuals recently contracted TB after being around infected elephants at a zoo.

Hosting Garden Bros. — or any circus with animals — endangers the public and is tantamount to supporting animal cruelty.

Delcianna J. Winders

Animal Law and Policy Fellow

Harvard Law School

Cambridge, Massachusetts

(Editor’s note: The Enterprise asked Ms. Winders if she had documentation to support her claims here, and she responded with documentation for each, including videos, federal citations and news articles, sufficient to let the claims be published here.)