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USDA Fails Viola the Elephant



CWI recently reviewed the information the USDA provided regarding their follow-up to the incident involving Viola the elephant.


As you might recall, Viola escaped her circus handlers on April 16 and bolted through the streets of Butte, Montana.


Two weeks after the incident, the USDA made a site visit to Jordan World Circus. Viola has been traveling with Jordan World all year (and continues to do so) and was also traveling with them at the time of her escape.


In their inspection report, the USDA details the incident although it is unclear if they obtained the information from any source other than the circus. From the extensive video evidence CWI has observed, the USDA description that Viola “started walking” down a street with two handlers “immediately following” appears inaccurate.



Further, noting that Viola “could have been injured or caused injury as it walked along the city street” is a gross understatement. A loose elephant, as has happened elsewhere, can easily cause death or be killed particularly when racing across a busy city street.


The USDA frequently underreacts to serious and blatant violations of the Animal Welfare Act when it comes to their licensed exhibitors. We must continue to insist that they do their jobs and put the animals first, because they are the ones with the power to remove privately owned animals and place them in sanctuary.  We will not stop fighting for Viola and every other elephant who continues to be forced to perform in circuses.

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