Demand Traveling Circus Stop Abusing Animals


Target: Carson & Barnes Circus owner and manager Geary Byrd

Goal: Put an end to the rampant abuse and neglect that animals endure at the Carson & Barnes Circus

The Carson & Barnes Traveling Circus has an over 30 year history of animal abuse and neglect. It has been cited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act for beating elephants with bullhooks, punching and stabbing animals, and failing to provide vital veterinary care to sick and injured animals. Most recently, the Carson & Barnes Circus, which is based in Hugo, Oklahoma, received a warning from the USDA for neglecting a llama with a puncture wound to its eye. It’s time to put an end to this legacy of cruelty once and for all.

According to a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA) factsheet, “The USDA has cited Carson & Barnes Circus numerous times for failure to provide veterinary care and minimum space, for failure to provide shelter from the elements, for failure to maintain transport trailers, for inadequate ventilation, for unsound fencing that failed to protect spectators and animals, for rusty animal cages, for giving animals unclean water, and for failure to keep animal care records.” The first incident on record occurred as early as 1982 when five elephants tried to escape the horrific conditions of the Carson & Barnes Circus. Sadly, one of the elephants died as a result of the episode.

The Born Free Foundation, a UK based wildlife charity, states that the fear based training that animals endure while learning “tricks” results in “animals developing abnormal behaviors.” As proven by the Carson & Barnes Circus, many times these training techniques are cruel, abusive, and violent. Several circuses, including the New Shanghai Circus in Branson, Missouri and the Circus Center in San Francisco, California, are making the humane decision to perform without animals.

By signing the petition below, you will encourage Carson & Barnes Circus owner and manager Geary Byrd to stop abusing animals in the name of entertainment and instead only operate animal-free circus performances.


Dear Geary Byrd,

I was shocked to learn that the Carson & Barnes Circus once again received a warning from the USDA, this time for neglecting a llama with a punctured eye. For over 30 years, your circus has been cited for incidents including beating elephants with bullhooks, punching and stabbing animals and failing to provide vital veterinary care to sick and injured animals.

Perhaps you are unaware that many of the training techniques used in circuses cause animals physical and mental trauma. Several circuses have made the humane decision to perform without animals. I am asking you to take the compassionate step to end the history of abuse and neglect and only operate animal-free circus performances.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Liz Dawson c/o via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Michael Guest says:

    No animal should be abused. This is not entertaining.

  2. Nancy O'Neal says:

    Making slaves of innocent animals is demeaning to what entertainment is meant for and your citations are incorrigible. Will you finally do what’s right and use only people who can defend themselves.

  3. Kae Blecha, OTR says:

    Carson & Barnes cycles through my part of the country every few years. They work in smaller towns with under-educated people who are trying to raise money for children’s charities (Shriners and Kiwanis) and who have no understanding of how circuses really work behind the scenes. I put up the flyers that PETA sent me next to their posters but didn’t remove them; only one business took the circus poster down. Per the local newspaper article, Ms. Byrd is the fouth generation of her family to be a circus owner. (This is someone who has obviously come to think of beatings as “normal” and “business-as-usual.”) The article went on to say that the animal rights people (me) were complaining that the animals were being abused when they didn’t LOOK abused. What I got from this is that many folks think that ending animal abuse will spoil all their fun and money-making opportunities. My next tactic, and one that I suggest for others who are hitting a brick wall, is to address public safety. When elephants are mistreated, they could eventually snap and go on a rampage, especially when inadequate fencing is in use. It has happened all-too frequently over the years. This is what will be in my next letter-to-the-editor. I know this is a long paragraph, but I hope that this account of my experiences will be helpful to someone else if you are trying to make a stand. Let’s keep going!

  4. I think all circuses should have been shut down by now, I have never been to one and never would, people really cannot be that stupid that they think these poor animals do all the stupid tricks through love oh no, these animals are ill treated and brutally hurt to make them do silly tricks for the human race to watch, horrific.

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