Police rescued five zebras, four camels, and a miniature horse from the American circus company Shrine Circus on Saturday after a trailer transporting them caught fire.
In a Facebook post, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office of Indiana said two police officers and a circus member led the animals to safety.
Footage showed police officers standing with zebras and camels grazing on grass after the rescue. No animals were hurt in the fire, police said.
Animal abuse at Shrine Circus
The Shrine Circus still uses animals in their performances, even though many cities and states across the United States have banned shows that use wild and exotic animals.
Famous other circuses like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have shifted to performances that only involve human performers, animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said.
According to PETA, animals are subjected to harsh and abusive treatment at Shrine Circus. They often face the threat of being hit with bullhooks (tools that look like fireplace pokers with a sharp hook on one end) and whips.
Animal behavior expert Jay Pratte has reported that neglect, psychological abuse, and fear-based training methods are common in the Shrine Circus performances he visited.
Elephants hit with bullhook
Even though the Shrine Circus does not have a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) exhibitor license, they still use animals, PETA said. The circus often leases animals from providers with histories of abuse and legal issues.
Carson & Barnes Circus, which Shrine Circus has hired, has over 100 federal Animal Welfare Act violations. A PETA undercover investigation captured their head trainer attacking elephants and instructing others to use bullhooks to cause pain.
Videos have shown two elderly elephants from Carden International Circus, used by Shrine Circus, struggling to perform.
PETA released footage of animal handler Brian Franzen, working at a Shrine Circus, hitting an elephant with a bullhook. The USDA has cited him for similar abuse in the past.
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