Circus settles federal complaint over elephant incidents

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A circus has agreed to pay a $7,000 fine to settle alleged federal animal-welfare violations involving Missouri and Pennsylvania shows where elephants were allowed to get loose or too close to circus-goers.

Florida-based Royal Hanneford Circus’ resolution of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2015 complaint came six months after the Carson & Barnes circus agreed to a $16,000 fine for its alleged role. Royal Hanneford had hired Carson & Barnes, based in Oklahoma, to exhibit the elephants.

Neither circus admits any wrongdoing.

The USDA alleged that during a 2014 fundraiser circus in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles, three elephants briefly got loose on the arena’s lot. Three weeks later in Altoona, Pennsylvania, the USDA said, elephant handlers wrongly stopped to water the animals in a publicly accessible area.