Dear Editor:

I hope that the Jefferson-Sparta Rotary Club will rethink its plans to host Kelly Miller Circus, given its records of animal abuse and public endangerment (“The Circus is Coming to Town, Presented by the Jefferson-Sparta Rotary Club,” 4/3).

A government inspector caught Kelly Miller’s zebra and camel exhibitor shocking animals with an electric prod. The circus’s tiger exhibitor has repeatedly committed animal welfare violations, including failing to provide veterinary care to injured animals, failing to meet minimum space requirements, and allowing tigers to escape. And Kelly Miller’s elephant exhibitor has repeatedly paid penalties for animal welfare violations, including attacking elephants with a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker—and an electric prod while they cried out. Recently, the company paid another penalty for repeatedly endangering the public through careless elephant handling, including allowing elephants to escape. It has also exhibited tuberculosis-exposed elephants even though the disease is transmissible from elephants to humans—even without direct contact since it’s airborne.

Abuse and endangerment is the rule when it comes to animals used in circuses. That’s why nearly two decades ago Lions Club International discouraged its clubs from hosting circuses with animals, and why the organization recently reaffirmed its stance, urging clubs to “refrain from fundraising activities that exploit or cause harm to animals.” Given that rotary clubs are supposed to encourage and foster “[h]igh ethical standards in business and professions,” they too should eschew animal acts.

Delcianna J. Winders
Animal Law & Policy Fellow
Harvard Law School
April 3, 2017

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