Letter to the Editor: Cole Brothers Circus

I request that the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival reconsider the decision to include the Cole Brothers Circus at the festival.   This circus has a horrible history of animal abuse and neglect, and of violating federal laws intended to protect animals.

Clarke Daily News - Opinion & Editorial

As recently as February 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the Cole Brothers Circus and its president, John Pugh, had pled guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act for unlawfully selling two Asian elephants.   The two long-suffering elephants were confiscated by the USDA in 2009.   Mr. Pugh was sentenced to three years probation, 100 hours of community service and over $5,000 in fines.   The Cole Brothers Circus was ordered to pay a $150,000 fine.

Violent, physical abuse remains a common method of training and controlling elephants and other animals in the circus.   In 2010, the Cole Brothers Circus traveled with several elephants under the control of trainer Tim Frisco.   Mr. Frisco is infamous for undercover video footage that captured him beating elephants with bull hooks and shocking them with electric prods.   In the video, Frisco is heard instructing other elephant trainers to, “Hurt ‘em!   Make ‘em scream! … Sink that hook into ‘em … When you hear the screaming, then you know you got their attention!”

In 2003, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited Cole Brothers, after a handler struck an elephant repeatedly with a broom handle.   In 2000, USDA inspectors noted that two Cole Brothers elephants had bull hook scars.   In 1999, the USDA charged Cole Brothers with violating the Animal Welfare Act; USDA undersecretary Michael Dunn stated, “We believe that on numerous occasions, employees of the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus abusively used an elephant hook on several animals.”

Elephants and other wild animals used in circuses can be a public safely risk.   In April 2010, an adult elephant with the Cole Brothers Circus escaped from her handlers during a stop in Lynchburg, Virginia.   The elephant ran past a line of spectators waiting to buy tickets, and was eventually recaptured only after falling into a ditch.   In 1995 in Forest Park, Queens, two female elephants broke free during a performance injuring 12 patrons.   These two elephants were seen being beaten on the head prior to a performance 2 months earlier in a different location.

The Cole Brothers Circus began its 2010 tour with a group of big cats illegally exhibited by handlers who did not possess a USDA license for the dangerous animals; the agency denied them a license due to lack of expertise.   In July 2010, the USDA ordered the circus to stop using unlicensed handlers to show the tiger act.

During the Cole Brothers Circus 2007 tour, the USDA ordered that two elephants be taken off the road due to “an alarming amount of weight loss” and other health concerns.   Cole Brothers has repeatedly refused to retire aging elephants, even when it is obvious that they are suffering from painful arthritis or other captivity-induced health problems (conditions linked to prolonged chaining and lack of proper exercise.)

Please choose a non-animal circus for the Apple Blossom Festival.   There are many circuses, including Cirque du Soleil, The New Pickle Circus, Circus Oz, and Cirque Eloize that do not use animals but offer clowns, trapeze artists, jugglers and other talented human performers.   Circuses with animals do not teach children about the natural behaviors of wild animals; they only teach children that we can confine and dominate over animals.


Jo Bighouse is the owner of Midas Touch “A Unique  Health Food Store For You And Your Pets” located in Berryville, Virginia









  1. River Watcher says:

    I agree with this 100% ..
    What else can we do?
    Just reading this has sickened me.

  2. Agree. 100%

  3. Daniel Barley says:

    I would agree with opposition to including a circus that is known for being a repeated offender of animal cruelty laws, but would we carry it as far as opposing ANY circus with animal performances? Provided that the circus should take particular care for the health and safety and well-being of the animals, I don’t really see any problem with a circus that includes them in its acts.

    It seems a farfetched argument to me that in including animal performances we are somehow teaching our children “dominance” over animals. To be sure, training animals to do tricks does require a certain amount of dominance over the creature in order to be successful, but it isn’t as if either the trainers, leaders, or parents are sitting there instructing their child, “Now, Richie, this circus proves man’s superiority over beast.” There’s no specific instruction to that effect. Admittedly, such might be the impression with which the child walks away, but I can’t imagine that the supposed lessons the child learns from the circus are going to be anything other than negligible.

    More to the point, however, why would we insist that “confinement” and “dominance” of animals is a bad thing? In the most basic sense, the circus shows animals that have been trained to do entertaining tricks. Why does this differ in principle from someone training their dog to fetch and then showing the dog off to their friends? I don’t really see the cruelty in either– again, with the caveat that the trainers treat the animals well, ensure that they are well-fed and cared for, etc.

    I agree that if Cole Bros has a history of abusing its animals, it is wrong to support them by inviting them to come and perform during Apple Blossom. Such wanton cruelty as seen in the reports this letter to the editor illuminates ought not to be tolerated by this or any other community, and inviting them to bring their abusive practices here only shows financial support and implicit solidarity with their behavior. Nevertheless, let us not bring it to the opposite extreme; I see no need to put the argument into absolute terms with the unilateral opposition of any circus with animal performances.

    • Now here’s a kid who deserves a scholarship. One who uses his brain.

    • Dogs are domestic animals. Elephants, Tigers and the like are wild animals. They are not meant to be taught tricks, confined, or dominated. It goes against their entire nature.

      Just sayin..

      • Fly Swatter says:

        Valerie, dogs are NOW domesticated animals. How did that happen?? Humans… Having floppy ears shouldnt be the bar set for animal freedom. With that being said…I’m indifferent, I’m just stating the hypocrisy I see in this article.

        • Yes, 15,000 years ago – dogs were wolves.
          Did you not realize that we are talking about current affairs and not historical?

          There is no hypocrisy – you’re generalizing in order to argue.

          Jo is simply trying to inform people of how Cole Bros treats their animals. She wants people to make informed decisions about where they spend their money. No hypocrisy. You just don’t want to give any credit to animal rights awareness because you think it is silly.

          I eat meat, but I don’t condone the mistreatment of living things. That isn’t hypocrisy, that is being human and having a conscience.

  4. Thank you, Jo. Sickening. God didn’t intend for his animals to be treated this way.

  5. People should boycott circuses. Animals are mistreated for our own personal enjoyment which is not only sickening, it is also unethical. Someone must stand up for the animals, and I thank you for bringing awareness to this awful practice. [redacted]

  6. Orysia Nasar says:

    Thank you for posting your letter, Jo. I’ve written to the Apple Blossom Festival Committee, 135 North Cameron Street, Winchester, VA 22601 and expressed my disapproval that this circus with such a deplorable history of animal abuse is being permitted to profit from appearing on the entertainment venue of the festival. Yes, it is too late for this year, but if enough concerned citizens weigh in, perhaps the festival committee will reconsider for next year.

  7. Fly Swatter says:

    Your dog would rather run for days and dig holes. Stop spending time on an elephant and focus on abused and neglected humans. How was that steak you had for dinner?

    • Mr Mister says:

      I don’t think anyone was eating elephant steak last night. The main thing with the animals is they are resrticted to a small area for the time they are in town. Then loaded in smaller confined spaces and shipped to another town. At least your dog has a larger area to roam, even if it is in your fenced in yard. I don’t think you are prodding and whipping you dog to do tricks for you daily, are you? I like to see the animals, but not at the expence of their well being. I’m not one for boycotts, but my family does not go to this circus. It’s your choice.

  8. Fly Swatter says:

    Elephant steak, cow steak…who cares? Hypocrisy is hypocrisy. Dog…’larger area to roam’…Have you seen a beagle take off running? How far does that dog want to roam? Humans establish how far our dogs roam.

  9. I’ll never go to the circus again. Went to Cole Bros. at a recent Apple Blossom event and it was so sad to see the tigers hit, locked up in tiny cages, the elephants looked fatigued. It looked poor, dirty, sub-standard for any decent animal to live and work in. The opposite of entertainment, it left me sick to my stomach. Ever since 1994, I have only done Cirque du Soleil and humans-only shows. Where every performer has a right, a choice, dignity, and the voice to stand up if the conditions are hazardous and abusive. It was a mistake to visit the animal circus a few years ago, a thing I regret, let’s hope it goes away forever.

  10. Exotic animals belong in their own habitat or ONLY something as close to that, such as the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Traveling shows, and some zoos for that matter, leave something to be desired. Only the best zoos are worthy of having wild, exotic animals. Anything less is inhumane.

  11. FYI – As an alternative, I went to the Clarke County Fair a few years ago and they had these horses. They are war horses, the Lipizzaner Stallions. The animals were treated with such love and respect and were amazing, unforgettable, plus you could just see how healthy they were and they were not beaten or given poor living and working conditions. http://www.lipizzaner.com/home.asp Maybe The Bloom will consider this in 2012 instead ?? ~~ You can contact the Apple Blossom Festival at info@sabf.org

  12. Stonebroke says:

    Cole Bros. Circus has been around since 1884 and now the people of Clarke County think they have the power to shut down the Big Top! Wow!

  13. Fly Swatter says:

    Once again, my point….animals vs. humans comparison….enough already. Especially to human slavery…wow, unreal.

  14. Elephants Never Forget says:

    I will forever boycott the circus. Get informed. Look up how these elephants and other magnificent creatures are “trained” No innocent being deserves a life like they endure.

  15. J Jenkins says:

    At 6 years old I knew that circuses were wrong. Any animal will lift it’s leg in the air if you keep gouging it with a stick or sharp hook. Wake up people, this is NOT entertainment, this is cruelty.

  16. Humans have been domesticated, too. When they misbehave they get thrown into a concrete and iron/steel cage, sometimes for life. Humans are just another animal yet we beat each other, harm and maim each other. We mutilate for religious pleasure and tradition yet we can not do the same to our animal companions.

    If you want to protect the animals, start in your own home. Stop beating and mutilating children. Stop cruel and unusual punishment to “correct” deviant behavior. Punishment on humans is ok yet horrifies people when it is done to animals…. hypocrisy.

    • [redacted] Who are you referring to Michael?

      “yet we beat each other, harm and maim each other. We mutilate for religious pleasure and tradition”

  17. Jeez. Why is it so difficult for folks to put their heads around the idea of being against cruelty towards human beings AND animals? It isn’t like you must choose one or the other.

  18. Valerie, these are the same people complaining about cupcakes, of course they can’t understand why there is no pecking order in life and that all living things deserve respect and kindness.

  19. There is no argument “for” animal abuse; who can rightly say that he or she is actually in favor of it? Justifying animals’ mistreatment and making it comparable to dogs and or humans is, in fact, a non sequitur, and therefore can’t even be even be taken seriously. Dogs in your yard are PETS; animals in a circus are TRAINED to perform. Because someone eats meat also does not make him or her in favor of animal abuse; again, nonsensical. Humans create their own wills or destinies most often because of poor choices that they make; animals do not have a voice and therefore it is up to us to be their advocates. Thankfully there are decent humans in the world who make a difference by making this issue a prominent one.

  20. Stonebroke says:

    My dog can sit on demand. All I had to do was give him a doggy biscuit. Maybe they have elephant and tiger biscuits to use.

  21. Thanks for all of your attention, kids. Humans are rewarded, too. In the humans’ case it is iPods and iPads and crap like that. Carrot and the stick. Sticks for humans would be jail and possibly the electric chair.

    I am not in favor of abusing animals; however, any animal can be domesticated. Domestication is not abuse. In the case of canines, it was a good thing for them because they didn’t have to hunt anymore. They simply cleaned up table scraps for the humans. We’ve also domesticated felines. The cats tend to clean house of rodents and such for humans. Win-Win.

    What I was referring to about the domestic situation is that you can’t be for animal rights without protecting humans from abuse first. The saying goes: “You can’t love someone else without first loving yourself.” Save the humans! Ban war. Embrace peace.

  22. Mr Mister says:

    Did anyone see the glee in the elephant’s eyes in the parade? Me neither. They looked very sad.

  23. If anyone is interested in the facts pertaining to the numerous violations regarding Cole Bros(formerly Clyde Beatty-Cple Bros. Circus), read the following:


    If you do not have Facebook, I have listed the violations below. It is a long and detailed read but informative for all:

    Get The Facts:
    Cole Brothers Circus Fact Sheet
    (formerly Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus)

    Performing captive wildlife — elephants, lions, tigers, bears, baboons, monkeys, camels, llamas — all endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering in traveling acts to “entertain” an uninformed audience.

    Cole Brothers Circus has failed to meet minimal federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibition as established in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Cole Bros. Circus numerous times for failure to provide veterinary care, adequate shelter from the elements, and proper food and water, as well as failure to handle animals in a manner that prevents trauma and harm and ensures public safety.

    For more information, copies of USDA inspection reports, articles, etc., contact Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute at advocacy@bornfreeusa.org.


    The USDA cited Cole Bros. Circus for failing to store supplies of food and bedding in a manner that adequately protects them against contamination. It was noted that a truck parked adjacent to hay being used to feed the animals was leaking oil (or similar lubricant), which had spread to the floor space under one of the palates of hay.

    Cole Bros. was also cited in this inspection for failing to establish/maintain a safe and effective program of insect control. The inspector observed a camel named Chewy bothered by numerous flies on and around his face, nose and eyes — evidenced by constant head-shaking. Chewy was also noted to have a slight discharge from his left eye. (USDA Inspection Report)


    The USDA cited Cole Bros. Circus for failing to have medical records available for the camels in its care. The inspector noted that although the program of veterinary care for the camels includes annual vaccinations, and fecal exams and/or dewormings, there were no medical records to document any vaccinations, and any fecal exams and/or dewormings — making it impossible for the inspector to determine if the appropriate veterinary care is being provided to the camels.

    Additionally, the USDA cited Cole Bros. for failing to maintain its perimeter fence in a manner that properly restricts the animals and that prevents unauthorized persons from being able to breach this fencing and gain contact with the animals.

    The inspector noted that the perimeter fencing had sustained weather damage that allowed the inspector to push the fence and posts over with one hand, and also had a gap that was large enough to allow a person to enter the facility. (USDA Inspection Report)


    Apollo, a 7-year-old white Bengal tiger, escaped from Cole Bros. Circus while the circus was performing in Forest Park, NY. The 450-pound tiger took a half-mile stroll around the Queens section of the city, the sight of him causing a multi-car accident on the Jackie Robinson Parkway that injured four adults and one child. Apollo was eventually coaxed back into his cage. This is the second escape of Cole Bros. animals from Forest Park (see elephant incident 07/11/95) (Associated Press)


    The USDA cited Cole Bros. Circus (in an inspection of its animals on tour with Walker Bros. Circus) for failing to handle its animals in a manner that does not cause trauma, stress, physical harm, or unnecessary discomfort for an incident involving an elephant called Jewel.

    An eyewitness observed an elephant handler beating Jewel about the head and face, which caused her to grunt and then also make a higher pitched sound. Three inspector-veterinarians were sent in response to the police complaint filed by the eyewitness. When questioned by an inspector, the handler admitted to having hit Jewel with a plastic PVC pipe, around 1 inch in diameter. The inspectors noted an area of lighter gray, abnormal looking skin over the bony areas of Jewel’s forehead and an area of red tissue over her left eye.

    During this inspection, the USDA also cited Cole Bros. for failing to maintain the facilities for the camels in a structurally sound manner that would contain the animals and protect them from injury. Inspectors noted that there was a gap in the fencing large enough for a camel to get through, and that the camels were wearing their halters while in the enclosure — which could potentially cause injury to the animals if caught on the support poles of the fencing.

    Cole Bros. Circus was cited for failing to maintain required aspects of its veterinary care program. This included notes from the inspector that the written Program of Veterinary Care had not been signed or dated, this program did not provide the necessary information in its section on euthanasia (e.g. appropriate dosages for each species, appropriate vein to use for each species), and that two new employees working with the elephants had not been TB-tested — in accordance with the disease prevention and control plan in this program. (USDA Inspection Report)


    Faced with dwindling audiences, sliding profits, and increased pressure from animal advocacy organizations highlighting their violations of the Animal Welfare Act, Cole Bros. Circus joined the growing number of traveling circuses deciding against using elephants in their shows. However, Cole Bros. will continue to rent out its two remaining elephants, Tina and Jewel, for television commercials and other performances, including Republican party events. (Baltimore Sun, The Enterprise)


    The USDA cited Cole Bros. Circus for not promptly notifying the regional USDA office of its name change from Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. The inspector noted that notification of changes in operation, including name changes, are essential to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act. This inspection was conducted for animals on tour with the Walker Bros. Circus. (USDA Inspection Report)


    Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus was cited by the USDA for failing to maintain appropriate veterinary care for its animals. The inspector noted that the two llamas had overgrown hooves, and that one llama had a callus on the bridge of its nose underneath its halter. He also noted that a camel had discharge from its left eye and that flies were attracted to this area and causing discomfort for the camel.

    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failing to maintain its animal enclosures properly. The inspector noted that there were several holes and splintering in the wood stall used to house the llamas — indicating that this deterioration could cause injury to the animals.

    Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. was cited for failing to provide sufficient shade to protect animals from overheating or discomfort from direct sunlight. It was noted that no shade was provided for the camels, aside from a few nearby trees which would only offer some protection during the later part of the day.

    The USDA also cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for not making all records available for inspection. (USDA Inspection Report)


    The USDA cited and fined Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. $2,750 for “improper handling of an elephant” after receiving an 03/27/03 videotape of a trainer hitting an elephant with a broom. The trainer was fired. (12/00/03 USDA letter, Baltimore Sun)


    A Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. circus clown, known as “Smiley the Clown,” was found guilty on nine counts, including sodomy, sexual abuse, and endangering the welfare of a child, for sexually abusing his teenage assistant. The boy testified that the clown, Christopher Bayer, began molesting him in 1995, when he was 11 years old. (Associated Press)


    In response to multiple complaints received by the USDA’s Eastern Regional Office, the USDA instigated an inspection of an elephant named Bessie and noted that she suffers from arthritis, causing her to be “short strided in both front legs,” more notable in the front left with moderate head bobbing. (USDA Inspection Report)


    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failure to have a veterinarian-approved exercise plan for the dogs available for review. (USDA Inspection Report)


    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failing to have an updated Program for Veterinary Care, failing to have a Capture/Restraint Protocol in the event of a tiger escape, and failing to have a written veterinarian-approved diet plan for the tigers since they were not being fed a commercial exotic feline diet. (USDA Inspection Report)


    In response to a complaint about inadequate control of an elephant named Tina, and use of physical force, the USDA began an investigation into the matter. (USDA Inspection Report)


    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failure to maintain the elephants’ primary conveyances. (USDA Inspection Report)


    In response to complaints by a local animal-rights group in Stamford, CT, Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus performances were replaced by Cirque Eos, an animal-free show. (The Springfield News-Leader)


    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. with failure to handle two elephants, Helen and Bessie, in a manner that prevents trauma or physical harm after the inspector found that Helen and Bessie had several white circular scars from being hit with an ankus (also called a bullhook).

    The circus was also cited with failure to employ a veterinarian experienced with elephants and failure to provide adequate veterinary care. Bessie bleeds after and/or during urination and has not been diagnosed or treated for the condition. Helen has fecal material protruding from under her tail and has not been diagnosed or treated for the condition. According to the trainer, her tail was paralyzed by a truck accident (see below). In addition, all four elephants, Helen, Bessie, Jewel, and Tina, are in need of foot care.

    The USDA also cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failure to properly design the transport enclosure after Helen was slammed into the forward wall and injured during sudden braking. This resulted in paralysis of her tail.

    Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. was also cited for failure to properly store food after several bags of grain were found with holes caused by rodents. In addition, Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. failed to have documentation of the tuberculosis status of all handlers who had direct contact with the elephants in the last year. (USDA Inspection Report)


    On the same day that the USDA inspected Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. and cited the circus with numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act, the USDA issued a press release announcing a settlement between the two for Cole Bros.’ abusive use of a bullhook on several elephants (see entry 04/20/99). The settlement includes a $10,000 civil penalty to be suspended provided Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. spends this amount on an elephant consultant that would visit the circus twice per year. Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. is also to maintain for two years its program for the improvement of elephant handling and care. (USDA Press Release)


    The chief officer for the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New Jersey filed three criminal complaints and three civil complaints against Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus saying the circus conducted elephant rides with Helen while the elephant’s legs were injured. The officer videotaped Helen during her 08/18-20/99 performances and had experts examine her legs to establish probable cause for the suit. (Daytona Beach News-Journal)


    Two elephants with Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus died within two weeks of each other. Petunia, also known as Pete, the lead elephant with Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus, died 08/21/99 at the age of 49. Conti died 13 days later at age 54. USDA Spokesman, Jim Rogers, is suspicious of wrongdoing and is looking into “possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act.” Rogers said that his office is inundated with complaints from people who have attended Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus shows. He said they “get calls from everywhere they go.” It is reported that Pete was injured earlier in the month when a center pull fell and struck her on the back and rear quarters while she was helping to put up the circus tent. (Daytona Beach News-Journal, Action for Animals Network)


    During a USDA inspection, the inspector noted, “[t]here is some concern about the storage of chemicals above stored food items.” (USDA Inspection Report)


    An elephant named Betty, leased to Clyde Brothers Johnson Circus Corp. (Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros.), attacked and killed Shayne Gressett while he helped out at the circus in Timmons, Ontario. Betty was used to give elephant rides when she kicked the young man in the head. (Letter from Shayne’s mother, Mealey’s Litigation Report, Dallas Association of Young Lawyers’ publication The Dicta)


    The USDA charged Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus with violations of the Animal Welfare Act. USDA undersecretary Michael V. Dunn stated, “[w]e believe that on numerous occasions employees of the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus abusively used an elephant hook on several animals. Charges of abuse are always among the most serious. And, it both angers and saddens me when I hear allegations such as these.” Investigators found that on 06/03/98, two of the six elephants had wounds caused by the abusive use of a bullhook and that on 06/12/98, four of the six elephants had wounds caused by the abusive use of a bullhook. (USDA Press Release)


    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failure to properly maintain transport trailer. (USDA Inspection Report)


    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failure to maintain to elephant trailers so as to maintain structural strength and prevent animal injury. (USDA Inspection Report)


    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failing to have a meat freezer that can keep the meat supply properly frozen. (USDA Inspection Report)


    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failure to store food in a manner that adequately protects the supplies from spoilage, deterioration and/or contamination. The inspection revealed that chemicals were being stored directly on bags of grain. Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. was also cited for failure to maintain transport enclosures and failure to keep clean water receptacles for the animals. (USDA Inspection Report)


    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failure to maintain medical records and document treatments for the elephants. No records exist to document treatment for conditions as ordered by the veterinarian. In addition, medical records concerning the death of the elephant Ola were not available. (USDA Inspection Report)


    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failure to have proper maintenance around the meat freezer and for broken paneling in the trailer that needs to be replaced. (USDA Inspection Report)


    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failure to maintain medical records for the elephants. The elephant Pete has circular swelling for which there is no indication there has been attention or treatment. The veterinarian’s bill indicates medication was dispensed to three elephants but does not clearly identify the medications and Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. has no medical record of this. There was expired medication in the elephant barn and medical records did not reflect a veterinarian bill regarding treatment to the elephant Ola. (USDA Inspection Report)


    The USDA cited Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. for failure to have a written veterinary care program. (USDA Inspection Report)


    About a dozen people were injured as they collided while trying to run from two Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. elephants who broke free before a show at Forest Park in the Queens section of New York. Seven people were treated by Emergency Medical Service and at the hospital. The elephants also damaged property, including a parked car. (For another escape incident at Forest Park see entry for 07/31/04.) (Associated Press, The Cincinnati Post)


    In Hanover, PA, a line of six Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. elephants got spooked at the North Hanover Mall. Several of the elephants rampaged, smashing windows, denting cars, and crashing through a window at a Sears Auto Center. One elephant was injured. (Associated Press)


    An elephant, who was chained among a group of ten Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. elephants, crushed a man to death by pinning him against a truck trailer at the Fishkill Mall in New York. (The New York Times)


    Two tigers escaped from an unlocked cage during a Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. performance in Muhlenberg Township, PA. One tiger roamed around the center ring, frightening 2,000 spectators before he was coaxed back into his cage. (Reading Times)
    16 minutes ago · Delete Post

    Clown Actor Arraigned On Sexual-abuse Charges
    December 24, 1999
    The man who plays Smiley the Clown was arraigned Thursday in New York on a 15-count indictment which included four counts of sodomy, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said.
    Christopher Bayer, known as Smiley the Clown at the DeLand-based Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus, was arrested Saturday on Long Island on charges he was “engaging in sex acts” with a 16-year-old boy who had been a longtime friend.
    The indictment also charges Bayer with four counts of sexual abuse in the first degree and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

    A Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. circus clown, known as “Smiley the Clown,” was found guilty on nine counts, including sodomy, sexual abuse, and endangering the welfare of a child, for sexually abusing his teenage assistant. The boy testified that the clown, Christopher Bayer, began molesting him in 1995, when he was 11 years old. (Associated Press)

    A Tiger Hangs Out In Queens

    NYers have a rep (well-deserved in most cases) for being blase and nonchalant about bizarre occurences that happen in city life (except for seeing naked people in the apartment across the way – that’s always cause for a phone call to a friend) because that just the way it is. Except when it comes to tigers roaming city streets. That’s why an escaped tiger escaped tiger stopped traffic in Queens. The 450 pound white tiger, Apollo, some how got loose from the Cole Bros. Circus in Forest Park, Queens, and wandered around. The NY Times detailed his journey:
    The cat took the Myrtle Avenue entrance ramp to the Jackie Robinson, where he loped along before cutting through some woods and followed a path up to a hole in a chain-link fence on 88th Lane near Myrtle Avenue.
    Not that Gothamist would have wanted a terrible accident or someone to have gotten hurt, but it would have been pretty amazing if this happened during the morning commute and the traffic reporters had to report that. Apollo’s trainers helped subdue him and the NYPD and Parks department helped get him into a cage by cordoning off the road. One onlooker told the Post, “He was just lying in the bushes. He looked exhausted.” Yes, NYC traffic can do that to a soul. The Cole Bros. Circus was slapped with a health code summons (that’s it?) and tigers weren’t part of yesterday’s Cole Bros. Circus performance, as the circus tries to figure out how Apollo escaped. One 6 year-old circus goer told the Daily News, “It’s corny if they have no tigers.” Word. Of course, this incident is giving NY State Senator Carl Kruger even more reason to ban the Cole Bros. Circus, what compounded with the flying cat “cruelty” finding earlier.
    Gothamist imagines that Apollo was trying to get the Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria, or perhaps the new Lee Bontecou exhibit at the MoMA Queens. We wonder what would have happened if Ming the tiger had escaped his Harlem apartment – a trip to Sylvia’s, perhaps?

    Escaped Circus Tiger Lawsuit Settlement

    Finally, we all have closure for a 2004 incident where a tiger from the Cole Bros. Circus escaped, ran along the Jackie Robinson Highway, and then passed out in some bushes. See, drivers who caught glimpse of Apollo, a 450-pound tiger, were naturally startled and ended up in a five-car pile-up (started when one driver didn’t want to hit the huge creature). And, naturally, those drivers sued. 1010WINS reports that the tiger’s trainer will pay a near $1 million settlement to two drivers “both claimed to have suffered devastating back injuries in the chain-reaction car crash.” Apollo’s escape at the time gave State Senator Carl Kruger more reason to ban the circus, especially considering Cole Bros. had also included flying cats.