The Arkansas National Guard said Tuesday that it canceled four shows by a circus after the guard learned about alleged animal welfare violations from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
The shows had been scheduled for Batesville, Crossett, Magnolia and Malvern from February 21 to February 25.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture alleged 33 violations of the Animal Welfare Act against the Florida-based Liebel Family Circus in December that include keeping an elephant named Nosey chained too tightly and allowing a spider monkey named Reggie to escape.
The USDA alleges circus owner Hugo Liebel misrepresented the identity of Nosey the elephant, sometimes calling her “Dumbo” or “Peanut”. The USDA also alleges Liebel lied about the beast’s age, claiming she was 15 when she is really 30 years old.
USDA attorneys have recommended a suspension or revocation of Liebel’s Animal Welfare Act license.
The circus owner denies the USDA’s claims in a 29-page item-by-item response. A hearing before a USDA administrative law judge has yet to be set.
Here’s how Liebel defended himself. From Associated Press:
“I am a good man and a good human being, and before I go to bed all of my animals will be fed, watered, cleaned and loved,” the 59-year-old Hungarian immigrant said.
PETA administrator Delcianna Winders said the group learned about the Liebel Family Circus’ planned Arkansas performances on Facebook.
“We’re constantly monitoring them,” Winders said. “We’re extremely concerned about Nosey the elephant.”
Arkansas National Guard spokesman Maj. Chris Heathscott said the guard discovered the allegations two working days before the performances, which were suspended and later canceled.
“The cancelation is very important and shows the National Guard Armory will not tolerate animal abuse and public endangerment, and shows members of the public there are alternative forms of entertainment that don’t involve exploitation of animals,” Winders said.
Kudos to the Arkansas National Guard for doing the right thing.
But do we really need circuses with their spectacles of wild animals being mistreated? Why not boycott them altogether? What do you think?
Photo Credit: King Kong 911