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Victory: Cole Bros. Circus has Shut Down!

Following hundreds of Cole Bros. Circus protests, severely declining attendance across Long Island venues, and cancellations of Cole Bros. Circus in Islip and West Deptford in 2015, Cole Bros. Circus has folded its tents for the final time. Although the tigers, elephants, and other animals used by Cole Bros. continue to tour with other circuses, it has become clear that animal entertainment is a dying industry.

(Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas)

LION extends our sincere thanks to town of Islip resident Anita Cafferty, West Deptford resident Joan Conn, and PETA for all their help achieving this monumental victory.  

Update: Circus Cited for Violation of New York State following LION Complaint!

Following a LION investigation and formal complaint to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) alleging the circus' violation of New York state permits mandating that "Animals must be exhibited, held, transported, and housed in a manner which prevents direct contact with the public at all times," the New York State DEC reported "The department followed up on your complaint and as a result tickets were issued for violation of state law. The animals in question were transported out of the state the same day." 

Not only is exhibiting wild animals cruel, but it is also incredibly dangerous. In seven separate incidents, elephants with Cole Bros. had 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. In one incident in Queens, two elephants went on a rampage triggering a panic that left 12 people injured. The elephants bolted from the tent and crushed a parked car before being brought under control. In a separate incident, a 450-pound white tiger bolted from Cole Bros. while being transferred from one cage to another in Forest Park. Dozens of police officers with machine guns and tranquilizer darts pursued the animal for 30 minutes as he prowled through a park crowded with picnickers, scattering screaming people and causing a five-car pileup. Two women filed a $30 million lawsuit after sustaining spinal fractures and other injuries in the multi-car crash on the Jackie Robinson Parkway.

Among numerous violations, Cole Bros. Circus and its president John Pugh had been cited $15,000 for violations of the Animal Welfare Act in 2012 and ordered to pay more than $150,000 in fines in 2011 for violations of the federal Endangered Species Act.

As Cole Bros. Circus relinquished its license to own and exhibit animals in 2008, it had 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." 

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