READER LETTER: Cole Bros Circus Boycott

I sent the following information to the county commissioners concerning USDA citations and the Cole Bros. Circus which will be visiting St. Mary's Fairgrounds next week.  I was hoping this might make a useful story to inform the public not to support Cole Bros. Circus.  Thank you.

Dear Commissioner,
I am writing to inform you of the many US Dept. of Agriculture citations for animal abuse and neglect against the Cole Brothers Circus, which will be arriving at our beautiful St. Mary’s fairgrounds early next week.  The list below includes citations dating back to 2004, including incidents in which members of the public were injured or killed.  As of 2008, Cole Bros. Circus doesn’t even have its own USDA license, and must lease its animal acts from other circuses.  Most recently, in February of this year, the owner of Cole Bros. Circus pled guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act.
 I am a science teacher at Leonardtown High School, and also the SMECO Science Teacher of the Year of 2008.  As a science teacher, I feel that it is my responsibility to educate my students to respect and care for all living things.  I am saddened each spring by the arrival of the Cole Bros. Circus in Leonardtown, and the sight of the elephants walking in circles as I leave LHS each afternoon.
Many cities and large corporations have stopped supporting circuses because of these abuses and the safety hazards to unsuspecting families that visit. 
I urge you to be a voice for the animals of the circus, who cannot speak up for themselves.  Please don’t support Cole Brothers Circus in St. Mary’s County.

Emily Sunderland
 Cole Bros. Circus-CitationsP.O. Box 127, DeLand, FL 32721
Cole Bros. Circus, previously known as Clyde Beatty–Cole Bros. Circus, has failed to meet minimal federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibition as established by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has repeatedly cited Cole Bros. for failure to provide veterinary care to animals, including elephants who have shown extreme weight loss, as well as failure to provide adequate space to animals. The USDA filed formal charges of AWA violations against Cole Bros. because elephants showed signs of being abused with sharp metal bullhooks; a New Jersey humane society charged the circus with cruelty to animals for overloading and overworking an elephant; and two elephants—who were described as malnourished and neglected—died suddenly within a two-week period. In five separate incidents, elephants with Cole Bros. have become violent, killing two members of the public, injuring more than a dozen others, and rampaging during performances, causing tens of thousands of dollars in property damage. As of February 2008, Cole Bros. no longer has its own USDA license and leases animal acts from other circuses, including Carson & Barnes Circus. Carson & Barnes employees were videotaped beating elephants with bullhooks and shocking them with electric prods, and the USDA has fined Carson & Barnes for elephant abuse. In 2011, Cole Bros. and its president pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act by illegally selling two Asian elephants and were sentenced to probation and ordered to pay more than $150,000 in fines. 
February 23, 2011: Both Cole Bros. and John Pugh, the company owner and president, pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act by illegally selling two Asian elephants named Tina and Jewel to a man who planned to use them for private parties and elephant rides. Cole Bros. was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay a $150,000 fine. Pugh was sentenced to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service and ordered to pay $5,200. Both Jewel and Ti

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