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Cole Bros Circus protest/Melbourne

Each year the Cole Bros. Circus travels thousands of miles across the eastern U.S. with a menagerie of animals including elephants and tigers. The circus has a horrible history of animal abuse and neglect, and of violating federal laws intended to protect animals.

Cole Bros. Circus charged with violating the Animal Welfare Act. In April 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the Cole Bros. Circus and its president, John Pugh, had agreed to pay $15,000 to settle charges that it "willfully violated" the Animal Welfare Act. The charges cited multiple alleged violations:
• failure to provide adequate veterinary care to animals; specifically, one elephant was found to be severely underweight.
• failure to handle an elephant during public exhibition in a way that assured the safety of the animal and the public. The circus employed a handler who lacked adequate training and experience in handling elephants. The USDA found that the handler, “repeatedly hit the elephant with an ankus during both rides and circus performance.”
• employing a tiger handler who “lacked adequate training, knowledge and experience in handling tigers.”

Cole Bros. cited for cruel treatment of elephant, inexperienced animal handlers. In June 2011, when the circus was performing in Connecticut, a USDA inspector observed the elephant rides and noticed, “on several occasions that the female employee was using excessive force while tugging at the elephant with the ankus.” The USDA inspector noted that the circus employee “has no previous elephant handling experience.” The circus was issued a citation.

Cole Bros. Circus pleads guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act! In February 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the Cole Bros. Circus and Mr. Pugh had pled guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act for unlawfully selling two Asian elephants ("Tina" and "Jewel"). The two long-suffering elephants were confiscated by the USDA in 2009. Mr. Pugh was sentenced to three years probation, 100 hours of community service and over $5,000 in fines. The Cole Bros. Circus was ordered to pay a $150,000 fine!

For more info visit ARFF's website at

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