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In response, Leslie Armstrong of PETA stated: "All you have to do is look at the video and see that he (Tim Frisco) did abuse the elephants."
Something wasn't adding up. Carson & Barnes' A. Wilkins said, "The family that owns the elephants that are with UniverSoul still employs Mr. Frisco." Yet the company that employs Frisco is her own, Carson & Barnes, which UniverSoul's spokesperson claimed they don't contract with anymore. Apparently, UniverSoul and Carson & Barnes didn't get their story straight before talking to us.
So, back we went to both UniverSoul Circus and Carson & Barnes. Once and for all, does Carson & Barnes -- the company that still employs Frisco, who was caught on tape abusing animals -- supply UniverSoul with elephants?
"Yes, Carson Barnes, through the Miller Equipment Co," replied Ernest from UniverSoul via email. "Unfortunately, I do not keep up with who they employ. He apparently does not work directly with us." In other words, Ernest's previous statement that UniverSoul Circus isn't using Carson & Barnes any longer and is now getting their elephants from two other outfits -- Miller Equipment and Woodcock Elephants - was misleading at best.
We never heard back again from Carson & Barnes.
PETA's Armstrong says that while UniverSoul's general concept -- promoting family values, empowerment and self-esteem via a cast of multi-ethnic performers -- is positive, she wishes they would extend that message of compassion and kindness to their animals.
"UniverSoul does not own any of their animals, they subcontract them out," Armstrong said. "They would be the perfect circus to get rid of animals and just feature their other acts.
"Even if these trainers aren't beating their animals, the lifestyle is inhumane," Armstrong continued. "These animals are taken away from their families and homelands and are chained and caged. There are so many people starting to recognize how horrible this is. It's hard to change tradition, but more communities have enacted outright bans on circuses and sponsors are backing out. Things are changing."
"Make 'em Scream"Tape of elephant training not for the faint-heartedBy Sam Boykin
A spokesperson for Carson & Barnes, which used to provide animals for the UniverSoul Circus, said they had seen no reason to discontinue getting animals that had been trained by Tim Frisco. Here is a sample of what Frisco said as he aggressively and repeatedly beat the elephants with a "bullhook" and jabbed them with an electric prod. His vicious instructions and sadistic statements are what the Carson & Barnes spokesperson characterized as "poor taste in language choices." A PETA employee working undercover caught Frisco's words and actions on videotape in 1999. To view the tape, go to circuses.com or circuswatch.com and click on "Carson & Barnes training tape."
As Frisco instructs an elephant trainer how to use the bullhook, he shouts: "Tear that foot off! Sink it in the foot! Tear if off! Make "em scream!"
Frisco explains his training methods: "Don't touch "em. Hurt "em. Hurt "em. Make "em scream. If you're scared to hurt "em, don't come in the barn. When I say rip his head off, rip his fucking foot off. . .it's very important that you do it. When he starts squirming too fucking much, both fucking hands -- Boom! -- right under that chin. (Frisco then swings the bullhook like a baseball bat to illustrate.)
"When he fucks around too much, you fucking sink that hook and give it everything you got."
"Sink that hook into "em. . .when you hear that screaming then you know you got their attention. Right here in the barn. You can't do it on the road. I'm not gonna touch her in front of a thousand people. She's gonna fucking do what I want and that's just fucking the way it is. Make "em holler, let "em run from ya."
"I am the boss, I will kick your fucking ass."
"I'll kick the shit out of you little prick."
On the Carson & Barnes Circus website, they have pictures showcasing a young baby elephant named Jennie. The website reads:
Tim Frisco, the circus' Animal Care Director, was present at Jennie's birth, and has rarely been far from her since. There is an amazing bond between the two, no doubt strengthened by the many years Tim and Jennie's mother have worked together. He has Isa's absolute trust. "Jennie is a natural performer," Tim recently said, "she loves showing off." They began working together early in Jennie's life, to develop the impressive act she now performs with ease. His many years of living and working with elephants have convinced Tim Frisco of the intelligence of elephants, and Jennie has shown herself to be a cut above most. She appears along with 20 other elephants in the latest edition of this incredible five-ring spectacle."