Cole Bros. Circus
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 give veterinary care to animals, including elephants who have shown extreme weight loss, as well as failure to provide animals with adequate space.
In 2011, Cole Bros. Circus, and its president John Pugh, also plead guilty to violations of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and were sentenced to probation with the Justice Department after selling two endangered Asian elephants to a former employee intending to use them for backyard elephant rides. Cole Bros. Circus paid a $150,000 fine and was sentenced to four years probation while its president John Pugh was sentenced to 300 hours of community service, three years of probation, a $4,000 fine, and a mandatory $1,200 payment to an organization working toward conservation and rehabilitation of Asian elephants. Additionally, Jewel, an elephant previously found emaciated while owned by Cole, was confiscated by the USDA.
As the Cole Bros. Circus relinquished its license to own and exhibit animals in 2008, it has since leased the services of Tim Frisco, the notorious head of animal care for Carson & Barnes Circus, who can be seen in the video below electrocuting and beating elephants with bullhooks while telling trainees to "make them scream." This video also shows animals swaying psychotically in their cages and a man using a blowtorch to take the hair off of an elephant.
Not only is animal welfare a major concern, but public safety is as well. Cole Bros. Circus is responsible for the escape of two elephants and a tiger during two incidents on Long Island within the past decade and a Cole Bros. elephant crushed a man to death in Fishkill, NY in 1993. Considering this show was ticketed for violations of New York's "no contact" rule regarding Asian elephants as recently as 2013, these incidents seemingly have not caused them much concern.