Wounds Seen on Elephant With Ringling Bros. Prompt Call for Government Investigation

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Photo and Video Show Abrasions That Circus Apparently Attempted to Conceal With Gray Powder Called 'Wonder Dust'

For Immediate Release:

August 2, 2014


David Perle 202-483-7382

Anaheim, Calif. – PETA has received a photograph and video footage of elephants traveling with the Ringling Bros. circus as they were being walked in Anaheim on July 31. The photograph, taken by a passerby, shows an elephant—likely Bonnie—with three long abrasions on her side, prompting PETA to send an urgent request calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct an immediate inspection of the elephants with Ringling’s Blue Unit, which is performing in Anaheim through August 3, determine the cause of the abrasions, and ensure that the elephant is receiving proper veterinary care as required by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Ringling appears to have tried to cover up the wounds with a gray powder called “Wonder Dust,” which Ringling uses to conceal wounds from bullhooks (weapons that resemble fireplace pokers with a sharp metal hook on one end).

“PETA’s motto says, in part, that ‘animals are not ours to use for entertainment,’ and the wounds on this elephant’s side demonstrate why,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “We’re calling on the authorities to hold Ringling—which has a long history of animal care violations, including deaths from neglect, and has paid the largest fine in circus history for failing to comply with the Animal Welfare Act—accountable and asking families to stay away from this cruel circus.”

Ringling’s long history of cruelty includes both abusing elephants with bullhooks and transporting elephants in unsafe transport enclosures, either of which may have caused this elephant’s injuries.

These injuries come just two years after a sick elephant with Ringling collapsed in Anaheim. Just days ago, PETA asked the USDA to inspect a different elephant traveling with this same unit, who had what appeared to be a swollen lump on the right side of her face.

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