Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Potential Coney Island Circus Has Had Animal Abuse Issues

May 30th, 2007 · 3 Comments

You know the circus that Thor Equities and developer Joe Sitt want say they are bringing to Coney Island this summer? Yesterday, we were going to crack a joke about how animal rights activists would complain. Well, the circus that will be coming is Cole Bros. and animal rights activists have complained bitterly about its alleged abuse of animals; the circus was even investigated by the Federal government for its treatment of its elephants. (It stopped using elephants in 2004.) A 2003 Sarasota Herald-Tribune article was headlined, “Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus facing animal cruelty charges.”

How you feel about all this probably depends on how you feel about things like elephants having been abused with bullhooks, tiger cubs that died after being taken from their mother and allegations of inadequate veterinary care. We won’t even get into the clown convicted of sexually abusing a teenage assistant because it’s too creepy to contemplate.

We take absolutely no pleasure whatsoever in relating any of this and will note that many of the allegations are several years old. Charges of cruelty, etc. have been made against virtually every circus, particularly Ringling Bros. However, here’s a sample of verbiage from circuses.com, which is affilated with PETA:

Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. has failed to meet minimal federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibition as established in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). In April 1999, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) filed formal charges of AWA violations against Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. because the elephants showed signs of being abused with sharp metal bullhooks. They were charged with animal cruelty in August 1999 by a New Jersey humane society for overloading and overworking an elephant. Two elephants, who were described as malnourished and neglected, died suddenly within a two-week period in August 1999.

Apparently, the same circus has set up during the summer in Marine Park. A poster on the Coney Island Message Board mentions that they had some, um, problems a while back in a park in Queens when one of their tigers got loose and, uh, wandered around a bit and also had an upset elephant-related issue. Someone else writes:

They are also one of the worst offenders of animal abuse in the world of circus animals and it’s amazing they have not been shut down yet. Seemingly appropriate that Thor Equities would choose such a group to perform on that property.

While we’re not animal rights activists, but we love animals a lot, and it makes us sad to know that creatures are imprisoned and abused for our entertainment. Frankly, we liked the Coney Island Go-Karts and Batting Cages better.

Tags: coney island · Thor Equities

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jeanne // May 30, 2007 at 6:47 am

    I agree… instead of a glorified slip-n-slide and a cut-rate circus with animal abuse allegations, why didn’t Thor just let the batting cages and go-karts stick around for one more season?

    Oh, right, that would’ve made it harder for them to force through the zoning changes they want for their dang condos.

  • 2 Anonymous // Jul 5, 2007 at 10:41 am

    The allegations against the Cole Bros. Circus about animal cruelty are vastly unfounded. Watched them pretty close for the past 20 years traveling thru the area and my first hand observations tell me they treat their animals pretty well. I have made my way behind the scenes many times looking for issues. Have not found any. I am sure some of the incidents have some merit, but my observations did not lead me to believe they abuse their animals. Always plenty of water and feed.

  • 3 mari // Jul 16, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    As a lifelong animal lover I have never cared for using animals to entertain people in any way. I go to Coney Island at least once per month to shoot photos but have no intention of attending the circus. I have worked with animals and done animal rescue for many years but am not an activist. If I’m down there while they are there and am able to see any signs of neglect or abuse I will contact the ASPCA and let them handle it.