PETA asks officials to cancel circus

Published 12:02 am Thursday, February 16, 2012

The circus is coming to Andalusia today, but animal rights groups aren’t pleased about it.

Curtains for the Great Ame-rican Fam-ily Circus big top will open at 5:30 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. at the Kiwanis Center.

The family-owned circus, which is based in Gibsonton, Fla., touts “seats no more than 30 feet from the ring…with 90 minutes of action-packed family entertainment” including performances by acrobats, aerialists, bare back horse riders, monkeys, hula hoop artists, contortionists, horses, magicians, fire-eaters and “the most enchanting(ly), loving elephant exhibitions in the circus industry.”

However, both the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and In Defense of Animals (IDA), each an animal protection organization, are protesting the event.

A letter, sent by PETA to the arena manager, has called for the cancellation of the appearance, claiming the Great American Family Circus is the most recent alias adopted by the notorious Liebel Family Circus – an operation owned by Hugo Liebel, who was cited for 33 federal violations of the USDA’s Animal Welfare Act in regards to the treatment of his elephant “Nosey.”

Court records, dated Dec. 7, 2011, show the violations stem from allegedly having the elephant chained so tightly by its two legs that she could barely move; by allegedly leaving an unattended monkey chained to a pony for more than an hour; and by allegedly allowing unsupervised public contact with “Nosey,” who attacked and sent a worker to the emergency room in 2004.

Other serious charges cited by the USDA include violating the AWA by failing to provide adequate veterinary care to “Nosey,” who has suffered for years from a condition that leaves “thickened layers of dead skin…with a dry, cracked appearance” on her legs, tail, back, sides, and face, and by allowing a spider monkey to escape and not recovering him for nearly six weeks.

Attempts to reach Kiwanis officials were unsuccessful; however, tickets are available at a multitude of area businesses, which are for a buy one, get one adult ticket free special for $18, and children 12 and under are $9 each.