Letter To The Editor: Circuses Hurt Animals

Dear editor: I was disappointed that the C&M circus will be in my neighboring town Green River on July 1 and traveling through other Wyoming towns. Please do not fund this animal abusing business when it arrives in your town in Wyoming.

June 30, 20224 min read

Circus abuse 6 29 22 scaled
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Dear Editor:

I was disappointed that the C&M circus will be in my neighboring town Green River on July 1 and traveling through other Wyoming towns.

Culpepper and Merriweather Circus, operated by Eugene “Trey” Key III and Key Equipment Inc, was cited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for failure to provide shelter to animals from the elements, proper veterinary care, nutrition, and handling.

In addition, USDA had confiscated an underweight tiger cub from the circus. And its license was suspended for six months by an administrative law judge. The link to all the violations is listed at the bottom of the column.

Despite its past federal Animal Welfare Act violations, the circus still uses tigers and lions for the shows. Please do not fund this animal abusing business when it arrives in your town in Wyoming.

According to the C&M website, the circus performs two 90 mins shows seven days a week across 17 states a season.

Wild animals in these types of traveling circuses are often cramped in tiny cages where they are forced to stand and lie in their waste while traveling long distances over thousands of miles across the country.

These animals only get out for the performances and are locked back in their cages for constant traveling.

In the wild, tigers do not jump through hoops, elephants do not walk on two legs, or bears do not ride bicycles.

Unlike human performers, who choose to participate in the circus, these animals are forced to perform unnatural, frightening, and often painful tricks. Trainers often claim that only “positive reinforcement” is used in training these wild animals.

This type of “positive” interaction with the animals is often purposely displayed during the performance in the ring or on carefully supervised public tours. In reality, physical and psychological violence and withholding food and water are standard industry methods to force these animals to comply.

Bullhooks, whips, electrical shock prods, or other painful devices are often used during training sessions. Unfortunately, these training sessions are not in public view and are not monitored by the authorities.

The animals are forced to perform in fear of pain, injury, and punishment. These circuses teach children that it’s acceptable to exploit and abuse animals for amusement.

Big crowds, bright flashing lights, and loud noises are unnatural to these animals. In addition, stress from extreme confinement and constant fear of punishment often cause some animals to lash out.

In the past, animals have escaped from the circus premises, running into buildings throughout the town, attacking people, and injuring and killing trainers.

Bringing these dangerous and frustrated wild animals into close proximity to people poses a serious public safety threat. The risks are amplified because children are the target audience in these events.

On June 5, 2008, 2 elephants preparing to perform in the C&M (Culpepper and Merriweather) circus in Wakeeney, Kansas, got spooked by sounds of strong wind and tornado sirens, escaped, and ran through the town for 3 hours before being recaptured and loaded into trucks.

A white Bengal tiger named Jupiter, owned by Ron and Joy Holiday’s Cat Dancers, killed his trainer and, five weeks later, killed the owner by biting her in the neck while she hand-fed him. (November 13, 1998, Gainesville, Florida)

 400-lb tiger with Frazen Bros Circus killed his trainer by pouncing on him and dragging him around the ring by his neck in front of 200 kids. (May 7, 1997, Carrollton, PA)

Growing awareness about animal abuse and public safety concerns has made more than 150 municipalities, and six states across the United States prohibit or restrict wild animals’ use in traveling circuses.

Please do not attend C&M (Culpepper and Merriweather) circus when it comes to your town; instead, speak up against this animal-exploiting business. Contact the circus at 580-326-8833 and politely ask them to stop using wild animals in their shows and send all the wild animals to wildlife rescue sanctuaries.

For more information on circus animal cruelty, please contact wyomingwildlifeprotectiongoup@gmail.com

Link to the list of Culpepper And Merriweather Circus citations related to animal welfare:




Sincerely, Madhu Anderson
Rock Springs, Wyoming

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