Cole Brothers Draws Protests in Oceanside

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Photo by Anngel Nalbantian

Originally published the Rockville Centre Patch:

Protesters affiliated with Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION) carrying a banner that read “Circuses enslave, neglect, and abuse” stood in the middle of a roadway Monday outside the entrance of the Cole Brothers Circus at Fireman’s Memorial Field in Oceanside as firefighters attempted to clear them.

Around 15 protesters attended the demonstrations.

LION has an ongoing campaign directed at the Cole Brothers Circus. Earlier in July, they demonstrated against Cole Brothers Circus at the Shinnecock reservation in the Hamptons, then at a polo grounds on the North Fork of Long Island, and now Oceanside. LION has been particularly concerned with the circuses.

“Not only are circuses cruel, but public safety is a major concern,” said LION President John Di Leonardo in a press release. “A man was already killed by a Cole Bros. elephant in Fishkill, NY. . .These animals don’t want to be caged. They’ll do anything to get free.”

Di Leonardo also said that the Oceanside Fire Department should not be sponsoring the event. “We appreciate the Fire Department needing a fundraiser. However there is no excuse for their support of this abuse. We are hoping they will be willing to meet with us after the demos so we won’t have to come back stronger next year. It’s time to face the facts and discuss a cruelty-free fundraiser. There are a lot of great ways to raise money, but hosting convicted animal abusers is not an acceptable one.”

The Oceanside Fire Department was unable to be reached for comment after multiple attempts.

The USDA has repeatedly filed charges against Cole Brothers for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), lack of proper veterinarian care, abuse by trainers using bull hooks, and general neglect and overwork particularly as it relates to elephants. On February 23, 2011 John Pugh, owner of Cole Brothers Circus, plead guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act after selling two elephants illegally to be used for elephant rides and private parties.

Head elephant trainer, Tim Frisco, was videotaped beating elephants and screaming obscenities. In the video he yells, “I’m not going to touch [the elephants] in front of 1,000 people. She’s going to —-ing do what I want and that’s just the —-ing way it is.”

“If everybody saw that video they would not be going to the circus,” commented Jessica Julianao when asked about the video.

Elvin Bale, Vice President of Operations for Cole Brothers Circus, said that PETA was hypocritical. “You never hear of PETA going to disaster areas to help animals.” When asked what he would say to the protesters if he had a chance, he replied, “We thank the protesters for bringing the media because it helps us.”

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