PETA is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate the recent death of Nina the elephant, whom Carson & Barnes Circus exhibited at the Baraboo-based Circus World Museum in 2012 and 2013. As PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” notes in its letter, the USDA cited Carson & Barnes earlier this year for failing to supply adequate veterinary care to Nina (photos available), who lost 500 pounds over the course of just a few months—prompting PETA to question whether she was receiving adequate, or any, care for the conditions that Carson & Barnes claims led to her death, including failing kidneys and cardiac disease. PETA notes that Nina may have been suffering from tuberculosis as well, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned is highly transmissible from elephants to humans, even without direct contact. In 2012, Nina was kept at Circus World with the elephant Minnie, who had tested positive for tuberculosis that year and was prohibited by state authorities from performing and coming within 30 feet of the public. In 2013, a USDA inspection of Carson & Barnes at Circus World noted that Nina was growing thin, with visible hip bones and shoulder blades, and that there were no records of her receiving adequate veterinary care.
“Carson & Barnes’ history of tuberculosis exposure, along with its history of neglecting sick and injured animals, makes Nina’s death suspicious,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is asking the authorities to investigate this elephant’s death—and for caring families everywhere to stay far away from any circus that uses and abuses animals.”
Carson & Barnes has been repeatedly cited for failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care. The circus has also been cited for using excessive force with a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp hook on one end—and paid a penalty to the USDA after undercover video footage showed that veteran trainer Tim Frisco violently attacked elephants with a bullhook. A Carson & Barnes worker was also caught beating Nina on video in 2011.