Animal rights group files complaint over circus elephant 'abscess'

2013-04-25T00:15:00Z Animal rights group files complaint over circus elephant 'abscess'By John Grant Emeigh of The Montana Standard Montana Standard

An animal rights group wants the government to investigate how an elephant allegedly received a “large abscess” while traveling with a circus that is set to perform in the Butte Civic Center Thursday.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, filed the complaint Wednesday with the U.S. Department of Agriculture concerning an elephant traveling with the Jordan World Circus.

PETA wants the government to investigate what appears to be an abscess on the elephant’s left hip. A member of the public allegedly took a picture of the elephant and PETA claims the photo was examined by a veterinarian, according to a news release issued by PETA Wednesday.

Delciana Winders of PETA told The Montana Standard that the photo was taken on March 29 while the circus was in Puyallup, Wash. She said no one from PETA had physically examined the animal.

PETA claims the veterinarian reports the abscess may have been caused by a bullhook, which is a hook sometimes used in controlling elephants. Winders said the veterinarian hasn’t examined the elephant.

As of Wednesday afternoon, PETA hadn’t received a response from the USDA or Jordan World Circus.

Jordan World Circus spokesperson Erika Wallenda told The Standard Wednesday that she is not aware of any significant injury to any of the three elephants on the tour. Wallenda said the circus crews take good care of the animals.

“You live with these animals year-round. They’re like family. They take care of you and you take care of them,” Wallenda said.

She said that she isn’t sure if circus staff uses a bullhook on the elephants. Wallenda added that elephants can get what appear to be abscesses from minor injuries such as being stung by a hornet.

Wallenda said Jordan World Circus has been hosting circuses and working with animals for 25 years.

“People are welcome to come out and see our animals for themselves,” she said.

John Grant Emeigh may be reached via email at john.emeigh@lee.net or phone at 496-5511. Follow him at Twitter.com/@johnemeigh.

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