Campaigns - Circus Elephants

In addition to the campaign to rescue Tina, Jewel and Queenie, IDA is acting on behalf of elephants in circuses nationwide. This page details some of IDA's efforts.

circus elephantsBaby elephants performing: dangerously young!

The Carson and Barnes Circus has a history of cruelly separating baby elephants from their mothers and putting them on the road under the control of notorious circus handler Tim Frisco, who has been caught on video viciously beating elephants while "training" them.

Carson and Barnes babies cruelly taken from their mothers include:

  • Val, born April 27, 2007. Taken from her mother and placed on the road In Spring 2009 before the age of two. She has been appearing with Frisco at a variety of Shrine Circus venues produced by the Royal Hanneford Circus.

  • Obert, born August 20, 2003. Taken from his mother and traveling since at least 2005, when he was also under two years of age. He is traveling with Val at Shrine Circus Venues produced by the Royal Hanneford Circus.

  • jennieJennie, born 1999, died 2004 from the elephant endotheliotripic herpes virus. She had been traveling and performing without her mother since she was 18 months old. The stress and trauma of maternal separation is likely to have made Jennie susceptible to the deadly virus that has killed 40 percent of Asian elephants born in captivity in the U.S. in the last 25 years.

Baby elephants like Val would never naturally be separated from their mother; female elephants remain with their mothers for life and males remain into adolescence. Premature separation of babies causes indescribable stress and trauma both mother and baby.




Carson and Barnes routinely tears elephant babies and mothers apart, putting the calves on the road in clear violation of Animal Welfare Act requirements for humane handling and safe exhibition of young animals. Yet the USDA has allowed the circus to continue this egregiously inhumane practice.


IDA saves Ned -- now make sure his former trainer can't go on abusing


Ned, RIP

We are deeply saddened to report that the elephant Ned, who was confiscated by the USDA in November 2008 and sent to The Elephant Sanctuary thanks to the diligence of IDA, has passed away. Ned's sad life was filled with abuse and suffering, but in his last six months he finally experienced love, caring and trust. Despite the sanctuary's heroic efforts to heal Ned, his body appears to have been too damaged from his years of abuse. Only 21 years old, Ned left us far too soon. Amazingly, he died just 12 hours after the passing of Bunny, another of the sanctuary's elephants and the first to die from natural causes related to old age. It is comforting to think of Ned and Bunny making their journey together, finally free.

Ned's passing is a tragic reminder of the inaction of the USDA, which waited until Ned was at death's door before confiscating him. Our staff will work hard in Ned's memory to force the USDA to fulfill its mandate to uphold our nation's animal welfare law before it is too late for Tina, Jewel, Queenie, Val and other elephants who are victims of abuse at the hands of the circus and zoo industries. Read more about Ned’s passing.

What you can do:

Email Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and demand that his agency start to enforce the Animal Welfare Act to protect elephants. The USDA must start by confiscating Jewel, Tina and Queenie and send them to an elephant sanctuary.

This story provides a terrific example how one person really can make a difference for elephants. In this case, the elephant was named Ned and the person who saved him was Deb Robinson, an attorney and IDA's specialist on elephants in circuses. Ned was forced to perform for the Royal Hanneford Circus. While surfing the Internet one day, Deb came across shocking photos of Ned on Flickr, showing an incredibly emaciated elephant who looked ancient, even though he's just 21 years old. Deb leapt into action, sending Ned's photos to experts and filing a complaint on IDA's behalf with the USDA. The result: the rapid confiscation of Ned and transfer of this ailing elephant to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Ned has begun his healing journey in the caring hands of sanctuary personnel. Read more on this case.

nedWhat you can do

A new administration brings hope for captive elephants and better enforcement by the USDA, but only if the agency feels pressure from the outside to change its ways. That's where you come in. Please write and call your Congressperson and Senators, asking them to contact the USDA and demand that the agency protect elephants by enforcing the Animal Welfare Act to save Val, Tina, Jewel and Queenie and the other elephant victims of circus cruelty and abuse.

Locate your senators and congressperson using IDA's locator.

To send an email, visit that official's home page and use the web form. You can also locate fax and phone information there. Please follow-up your written communication with a phone call.