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What an expensive web we weave when we exploit animals out of greed. A U.S. District Court in Beaumont, Texas, slapped Cole Bros. Circus with a $150,000 fine and four years of probation for illegally selling two endangered Asian elephants, a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
The court also handed Cole Bros. owner John Pugh 300 hours of community service, three years of probation, a $4,000 fine, and a mandatory $1,200 payment to an organization working toward conservation and rehabilitation of Asian elephants. Former Cole Bros. employee Wilbur Davenport, who bought elephants Tina and Jewel from the circus, received 300 hours of community service, three years of probation, and a $5,200 fine.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confiscated Jewel from Davenport, and he then surrendered Tina, allowing the USDA to transport both elephants to the San Diego Zoo. While life in a zoo isn't ideal for Tina and Jewel, it is far better than traveling in a circus and being forced to perform. It is also substantially better than the life that Davenport had planned for the pair—giving elephant rides and making party appearances.
PETA has been following Cole Bros.' pervasive abuse of animals for years. We could only be happier about the punishment if Pugh and Davenport were also sentenced to years of giving piggyback rides at birthday parties to screaming children dropping slushies into their hair.
Written by Michelle Sherrow