Carson & Barnes Trainer Videotaped Beating, Shocking Elephants

elephants abuse and bullhookVacaville, Calif.(RUSHPRNEWS)09/03/2008 — This morning, PETA sent a letter to Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine and the City Council urging them to enact legislation that would ban the use of bullhooks, electric prods, and other devices commonly used to inflict pain on elephants. PETA’s request comes in light of Carson & Barnes Circus’ scheduled September 8-9 visit to Vacaville.

Carson & Barnes is a chronic violator of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and its animal care director has been caught on videotape viciously attacking elephants with bullhooks and electric prods. PETA points out that similar legislation is already pending in Chicago and has requested to meet with Mayor Augustine and the City Council to discuss making next week’s Carson & Barnes performances the last time that these instruments are used against elephants in Vacaville.

PETA’s letter was accompanied by a videotape, which shows Carson & Barnes animal care director Tim Frisco repeatedly attacking elephants with steel-tipped bullhooks and shocking them with electric prods as the animals scream and recoil in pain. “Tear that foot off! Tear it off! Make ’em scream!” Frisco instructs trainers. “Right here in the barn. You can’t do it on the road. I’m not gonna touch her in front of a thousand people.” The undercover video footage reveals standard elephant-training practices used by the circus industry.

“Bullhooks are cruel weapons of the circus trade that are routinely used to beat elephants into submission,” says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. “Mayor Davis and the City Council must send circuses the message that these instruments of torture will not be permitted in Vallejo.”

Video footage of elephant beatings can be seen on PETA’s Web site, and broadcast-quality footage is available upon request.

PETA’s letter to Mayor Augustine and the City Council follows.

September 2, 2008

The Honorable Len Augustine
Mayor of Vacaville
Vacaville City Council

Dear Mayor Augustine and Councilmembers:

PETA is the world’s largest animal rights organization, with more than 2 million members and supporters dedicated to animal protection. We have obtained video footage documenting elephant abuse at the Carson & Barnes Circus, which, according to the circus’s Web site, is scheduled to perform in Vacaville on September 8 and 9. Although legislation cannot be enacted in time for this upcoming performance, would you please consider a ban on bullhooks and other devices that inflict pain on or cause injury to elephants before the 2009 circus season begins?

The enclosed video footage–which is also available at–shows Carson & Barnes animal care director Tim Frisco viciously attacking terrified elephants with sharp metal bullhooks and electric prods. Frisco instructs other trainers to hurt the elephants until they scream and to sink a bullhook into their flesh and twist it. Frisco also cautions that the beatings must be concealed from the public. A U.S. District Court judge described this video as “troubling” and noted that it depicts conduct that violates the federal Animal Welfare Act.

The use of bullhooks results in pain, suffering, and trauma, including lacerations, puncture wounds, and abscesses. Although elephants’ skin appears tough, it is so sensitive that elephants can feel the pain of an insect bite. Trainers embed the hooks into the elephants’ skin and soft tissue areas. Bullhook abuse is routine at circuses that continue to use this barbaric instrument, but penalties are rare. Elephants will not be afforded more humane care until communities prohibit these cruel devices.

An elephant’s ability to feel pain–as well as sorrow, joy, and happiness–rivals our own. In circuses, every instinct is subject to discipline and animals live a sad life of punishment and confinement. Elephants who reach for a blade of grass suffer a painful blow from a bullhook. A fumbled trick during the show often results in a beating.
We hope you agree that the abuse of animals in circuses is unacceptable. Please make this year’s Carson & Barnes visit the last time that elephants will have to endure the bite of a bullhook in Vacaville. Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

RaeLeann Smith, Circus and Government Affairs Specialist

RaeLeann Smith 757-622-7382


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