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The Vile Exploitation of 54 year old Betty

We are completely disgusted by the 2023 Carden International Circus. This past weekend we found poor Betty forced to perform multiple times, including draped in vile American flag and Indian-themed costumes.

Rather than backing down on their use and abuse of 54 year old Betty, it appears Carden has decided to ramp it up. Not only is she made to give rides, but she's used in their main elephant performance AND used as a prop at two other times during the circus.

The vindictive and cruel Carden family think only of themselves and their bottomline. No consideration is given to the wellbeing of Betty, who deserves sanctuary after 37 years of profiteering off of her pain and suffering.

What do they do with the money the collect as a result of Betty's suffering? They recently spent THREE MILLION DOLLARS to buy the tacky Siegfried and Roy property in Las Vegas. The Carden priorities are clear.

We know and feel your frustration. Our petition for Betty has nearly 270,000 signatures. Numerous experts have expressed concerns about her gait, trunk paralysis, and other issues.

Yet thus far the USDA has done nothing. What can YOU do?

  • Always protest and speak out against animal abusing circuses that head to your region. Sign up at to receive notifications and commit to taking action when we contact you!

  • Share images from our social media and inform friends and family about circus cruelty.

  • Work to create a law in your region banning the use of animals in traveling entertainment.

  • Reach out to be a national volunteer and support our anti-circus work! Email us with your resume to:

Answers to other common questions we receive regarding Betty and other elephants in circuses:

1. Why don't you just go take her?

No, we cannot just "take" her. In the United States, animals are considered personal property. Taking her would mean stealing her, and stealing an elephant would be illegal...and very complicated! Elephants are large and unpredictable animals. There are no homes available for stolen elephants.

2. Why doesn't the federal government intervene?

The federal government enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) via the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Sadly, the laws surrounding elephant ownership and care in the AWA are not overly stringent and are also open to interpretation. APHIS trends toward siding with their licensees unless there is an overt display of cruelty or breaking of the rules. There is presently a push from the USDA to strengthen protections for animals. We recently encouraged our supporters to speak out in favor of this.

Until more stringent rules are in place and until which time APHIS uses a stronger hand in enforcing those rules, it will continue to be a rarity that they intervene, remove an animal, or revoke a license.

CWI continues to monitor this situation, proactively suggest changes to the AWA (as we successfully did recently in partnership with ALDF), file complaints with APHIS for violations of the AWA when we find them, and respond to queries from the USDA regarding changes to the AWA.

3. Can't we just buy her?

Over the years, several attempts have been made by animal rights groups and individuals to purchase animals away from abusive circuses for large amounts of money. Those efforts have been largely rebuffed.

Betty is "owned" by the Carden family. They are very wealthy. As we noted above, recently they bought the Siegfried and Roy property on a whim for $3 million dollars. They keep Betty because they like the profit she creates for them as a part of their circus business, and, given that they don't need the relatively small amount of money that could be raised to purchase her freedom, there is no sign that they would respond to such an offer.

4. Nothing feels like it's working! I am angry and frustrated and don't understand why you and other

organizations don't just do something! After all, I've donated!

First of all, aiming this type of vitriol at us or other organizations is extremely hurtful and unwarranted.

Speaking solely on behalf of our own organization, we work for no or very little pay as hard as we possibly can to make change for animals held captive by circuses every day, often seven days a week. And, in fact, it has been working well with an extraordinary number of wins.

Since CWI was founded, there are many smaller circuses that are now defunct, not to mention the shutting of Ringling Bros! Several Shrine circuses have also shut or no longer use animals.

Other medium-sized circuses still touring have moved away from using wild animals in their performances like Universoul and Garden Bros.

Two of our primary campaign elephants, Nosey and Bo, are--respectively--now at a sanctuary and at a reserve.

CWI has been in both informal and formal operation for ten years and during that time the number of elephants touring at any given time has been reduced to less than a third of what it was. The number of big cats touring is generally three or less, as opposed to more than 15. With the closing of some circuses, an untold number of camels, horses, ponies, dogs and other animals are also now spared from circus life.

When we began, Carden owned a large herd of elephants. They now own 4, including Betty. Betty is 54 and the other elephants are similar in age. Pragmatically, this means they will not have any elephants to use and abuse in shows for many more years as the elephants will be too old to perform.

We think about Betty and attempt to develop new strategies for her every single day. We do our utmost to ensure that we know where she is and what her condition is as often as possible.

So, please be kind in your communication with us and with other groups. Trust us when we tell you that we feel your pain--we work on this issue and bear witness to this cruelty every single day, and receiving aggressive notes does not help us with our work nor our mental well-being. Thank you.

Have other ideas, thoughts, or questions? Feel free to email us at or support our work at


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