Animal circuses typically market themselves as fun, harmless facilities that enable families to enjoy an amazing day out. However, the sad truth is that life as a circus performer is anything but fun for the animals involved. The stress of being confined to a small cage severely impacts the physical and mental health of tigers, lions, monkeys, elephants, and other animals who are forced to work as entertainers. They typically exhibit many of the stereotypic, stress-induced behaviors common amongst captive animals – which can include swaying from side to side, head-bobbing, excessive grooming, self-mutilation, and unpredictable bouts of aggression.

In addition, circus training methods are unspeakably cruel, typically involving the use of whips, bullhooks, and other painful instruments that are employed with the aim of breaking the animals’ spirits and forcing them to respond to their handlers’ every command. Forced starvation is another common method of teaching a circus animal to fear and obey their handlers.

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An investigation into a circus company named Carson & Barnes by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has revealed just how horrendous its training methods really are. The company has a long history of neglect and abuse toward their animals. In 2014, Carson & Barnes supplied the Moolah Shrine Circus with a number of elephants who escaped and ran loose for nearly an hour. Following this incident, the company was fined $16,000 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, the circus’ head elephant trainer, Tim Frisco, was caught on video torturing the elephants under his charge and instructing others to do the same.

Carson & Barnes have been contracted to appear at Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin, this year. Habib Omar, an elephant handler known for his rough treatment of the elephants, is being employed by the company and is set to present elephants at Circus World all summer. The distressing eighteen-second video above shows him brutally striking an elephant who failed to respond quickly enough to one of his commands.

PETA is currently running an online petition aimed at “urging Circus World to get with the times and end cruel, archaic animals acts once and for all!” You can sign the petition here. To learn why you should never buy a ticket to a circus or other entertainment facility that uses animals, check out the posts below.

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