Circus show in Birch Run cancels elephant act after PETA letter - WNEM TV 5

Circus show in Birch Run cancels elephant act after PETA letter

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BIRCH RUN, MI (WNEM) -

An elephant act is canceled after an animal rights organization and local leaders urged a circus to remove it from its show.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said Birch Run’s ban on possessing dangerous wild animals includes elephants with no exceptions.

Village officials notified Garden Bros. Circus of the law stating that the violations could lead to jail time.

Garden Bros. performed without elephants on May 17 and PETA is sending village officials a box of elephant-shaped vegan chocolates to thank them for ensuring that no elephants were used for the performance.

"Elephants exploited by circuses endure a lifetime of chains and beatings after being 'broken' as youngsters, and acts using them are now recognized as archaic sideshows from a bygone era," says PETA Foundation Deputy Director Rachel Mathews. "By refusing to allow Garden Bros. Circus to drag its elephant act into Birch Run, the village has done the right thing and, since two of the elephants who were scheduled to be used have a history of running amok, may have prevented these animals and the public from coming to harm."

The village manager and chief of police did not originally intend to enforce the ordinance, but PETA noted the number of human deaths and injuries from interactions with elephants.

Paul Moore with the Village of Birch Run agreed with PETA and sent a letter of his own to Stellar Entertainment Group Inc.

"It has been brought to the Village's attention that elephant performances and rides have been advertised for your event on May 17, 2018 at the Frankenmuth Credit Union Event Center. Because owning or harboring elephants violates Village ordinance, we respectfully urge you to refrain from doing so," Moore wrote in the letter.  

PETA sent a letter Monday, May 14 urging the Village of Birch Run to require Garden Bro’s Circus, operated by Stellar Entertainment Group Inc., to perform without elephants at its show.

"Elephants used by circuses have endured vicious beatings to break their spirits, but they're still dangerous wild animals who sometimes run amok with disastrous consequences," says PETA Foundation Deputy Director Rachel Mathews. "PETA is calling on officials to enforce the town's ordinance by barring elephant acts and urges members of the public to stay away from these cruel spectacles for the animals' and their own safety."

Paul Moore with the Village of Birch Run agreed with PETA and sent a letter of his own to Stellar Entertainment Group Inc.

"It has been brought to the Village's attention that elephant performances and rides have been advertised for your event on May 17, 2018 at the Frankenmuth Credit Union Event Center. Because owning or harboring elephants violates Village ordinance, we respectfully urge you to refrain from doing so," Moore wrote in the letter.  

>>See the full letter<<

Moore cited a local ordinance that makes it illegal to possess dangerous wild animals.

Read the full letter PETA sent to Birch Run Village Manager Paul Moore here: 

Dear Mr. Moore,

I'm writing on behalf of PETA to again request that the Village of Birch Run enforce its ordinance banning the possession of wild animals by requiring that the notoriously cruel Garden Bros. Circus perform without elephants when it's in town this week.

Starting in infancy, after being torn away from their mothers, elephants used in circuses undergo violent training sessions. For example, the head trainer at Carson & Barnes Circus, the outfit that leases elephant acts to Garden Bros., was filmed attacking elephants with a weapon called a bullhook and shocking them with an electric prod while they screamed during a training session.

But no amount of training can overcome the natural instincts of a sensitive, multiton wild animal. Dangerous interactions with captive elephants have resulted in dozens of human deaths or catastrophic injuries—including amputations, broken bones, crushed pelvises, collapsed and punctured lungs, degloving injuries, head wounds, and brain injuries. There is no way to predict which elephant will lash out and when.

The elephants used by Garden Bros, Isa and Viola, have made this clear. Isa was filmed being beaten back by handlers when they lost control of her at a circus venue, and once escaped from a circus and remained at large for weeks before being recaptured. Viola once ran off after being spooked by a rabbit and fell into a ravine. Both elephants were distressed by audience noise and escaped from a circus in 2014. They ran amok for nearly an hour, injuring themselves and causing damage to the venue and its guests' cars in the parking lot. 

Village of Birch Run Code § 90.03(c) makes it illegal, without exception, to harbor an animal who "constitutes a danger to human life, physical well being or property, including … elephants." Yet you say the Village will not enforce the ban because, in your opinion, it should apply only to residents. By permitting an out-of-town circus—which the Better Business Bureau has warned has an "F" rating—to flout the law, you are allowing the community to be put at risk and doing a disservice to the elephants.

PETA urges Birch Run to join the growing list of towns that have enforced their own public safety ordinances by barring Garden Bros. from using elephants—including Little Falls, Minnesota; Rio Rancho, New Mexico; Norfolk, Virginia; and more. Thank for your time and consideration.

Very truly yours,

Rachel Mathews, Esq.

Deputy Director | Captive Animal Law Enforcement

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