Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Stop Circus Suffering USA: International movement of circus animals: US examples

Posted: 17 March 2014. Updated: 17 March 2014

Circuses and animal dealers export animals from the U.S. to appear in circuses around the globe. Animals imported from abroad are resold to circuses in other countries. America also buys and hires animals and acts from all over the world. It is time for the U.S. to help stop this animal traffic.

Shakira, the giraffe

On October 9, 2006 an 8-month old male giraffe named Shakira arrived at Circo Africa de Fieras in Bogota, Colombia. Circus representatives said that they purchased him from “a zoo in Miami, Florida” for $50,000 and that he was en route to Circo Hermanos Gasca to be trained. Subsequent investigations revealed that he was actually supplied by a Texas-based animal dealer, Exoticos Salvajes.

Shakira had arrived in Colombia two days earlier, on Saturday October 7, but was not permitted to leave the airport until Monday 9, as the airport was closed over the weekend. While at the airport he was kept in a warehouse, in his box which measured approximately 5 feet x 8 feet x 9 feet. International Air Transport (IATA) regulations state: “Large giraffe are not recommended for air transport for animals that exceed an overall height of approx 1.50m (5ft.).” Shakira exceeded this height. Circo Africa de Fieras workers made a pen for him, which he survived in for just six days. He died at 3a.m. on October 15. A vet arrived at approximately 9a.m. to perform an autopsy and said that Shakira’s stomach was swollen from gas accumulation due to an excess of concentrated food that caused an obstruction of his digestive system. He was cut up, taken to a pet crematorium and cremated.

During this investigation, an ADI field officer filmed a trainer with Circo Africa de Fieras punching a chimpanzee called Karla (pictured) in the face and then beating her with a chain. At Circo Hermanos Gasca we witnessed another trainer beat and punch in the face, a chimpanzee called Panchito. Panchito was supplied to the circus from a dealer in Cuba. The origin of Karla is unknown; she was probably caught in the wild and is likely to have been trafficked through a number of countries.

Toto, the chimpanzee

27-year old Toto was snatched from the wild in Africa as a baby. The authorities believe that at about two or three years old, Toto and three other baby chimps were purchased in the U.S. by Chile’s Circus Konig. The other three died, leaving Toto alone for 20 years. He lived in a wooden packing crate about 3 feet wide, with bars on the front. He was chained by the neck when not performing.
His act involved dressing up in human clothes, smoking cigarettes and drinking tea. Toto’s only comfort during cold days and nights was to huddle beneath a small blanket. He slept surrounded by empty plastic bottles and sweet wrappers. ADI took legal action and seized Toto in 2003. His teeth were broken, his gums severely infected, and the canines had been pulled out. He had been castrated, and there were cigarette burns all over his body.

He was taken by ADI to renowned chimp sanctuary Chimfunshi in Zambia, Africa, where he now lives with a new chimpanzee family.

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