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This Week’s Creature Feature ... Life Isn’t All Peanuts

Cole Bros. Circus pays for ­elephant mistreatment

Elephants that traveled with Cole Bros. Circus — which visits the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds this week — were so thin that the circus has been fined for bad care.
    “The gravity of the violations herein is great and includes the repeated noncompliance with the regulations for veterinary care, handling and licensing,” a U.S. Department of Agriculture attorney wrote of the plight of Asian elephants Tina, Jewell and Boo.
    U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act. The circus agreed this month to pay a $15,000 civil penalty to settle formal charges of violations of that act.
    Those sanctions came five and six years after PETA — the animal rights organization — filed complaints regarding the Cole Bros. elephants “physical safety and psychological well-being.” Tina and Jewell were hundreds of pounds underweight and had been deprived of adequate veterinary care and were, PETA claimed in “critically emaciated condition.”
    Tina and Jewell now live at the San Diego Zoo, where they were placed after Cole Bros. was convicted of violating the Endangered Species Act and fined $150,000 for selling them illegally.
    Leased elephants still work in the Cole Bros. Circus, and PETA charges that they are handled by licensed exhibitor Carson and Barnes with “excessive force,” including blows from a bullhook.
    With Cole Bros. coming to town, PETA is “appealing to parents and grandparents not to take children to animal circuses because every ticket purchased supports suffering.”