Animals are part of our circus family

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Performing animal welfare issues have received much attention in recent years. Most of the focus has been misinformation distributed by animal rights extremists. Our animal interaction represents a very important relationship that has always existed between humans and animals. The staff and management of Kelly Miller Circus are deeply committed to the humane treatment of not only our animals, but of all animals and to the preservation of the Earth's endangered species. We would like to state our position about issues concerning the health and welfare of our animals.

We do not tolerate cruelty in the training of our animals. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to conduct a performance schedule that spans eight months with exhibitions in over 200 communities if our animals are nervous or cowering in fear. The relationships between our handlers and the animals are rooted in trust and would be impossible to maintain in an atmosphere of abuse and cruelty. Training is based on methods of positive reinforcement. Devices that are used in training are not weapons employed to inflict pain, but tools that have been found to elicit instinctive responses from animals. For instance, the curved end of the ankus, also known as a "bullhook," recreates the function of a trunk or trust to guide elephants with only a tug or a touch. This ancient tool imitates the way mothers coax their young along early in life, supplementing and reinforcing our handlers' vocal commands.

Our travel schedule is dictated by the need of our animals, also. The distance we travel between towns averages about 60 miles each day, and we are only in transit during the very early, cool morning hours. Custom built enclosures are assembled immediately upon arrival along with canopies and awnings for shade, and the animals are unloaded from the trucks as soon as these structures are erected. Only in cases of severe weather do the animals spend more than two hours of any day in the transport vehicles. They have constant access to food and water during the day, and their enclosures are designed to allow them to roam unchained inside them when they are not working or performing.

We are regulated and licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture and are subject to routine and on the spot inspections. We carry up to date paperwork including, but not limited to, the following items: our USDA exhibitor’s license, USDA veterinary programs, health certificates listing test results and vaccination records for all of our animals. These records amount to substantial documentation of the health and well being of our animals, a standard which should be asked of anyone who claims otherwise.

More significant than the scrutiny of federal, state, and local animal regulations, we are subject to the court of public opinion every single day from the time the animals are unloaded from the transport vehicles until we load them back up to leave for the next town. Our animals and our interactions with them are on public display at all times, and if any of our conduct was considered abusive or inappropriate by the general public it would be impossible for us to be consistently invited back to communities across North America year after year. We are not new at this – our reputation has been built since Kelly Miller Circus was founded in 1938.

Our animals are an important part of our circus family and we have strong emotional bonds with them. Economically, they represent major financial investments and it defies logic to think that we would intentionally harm or mistreat them. We appreciate the public's concern for them, also, and invite everyone to come see these magnificent animals on circus day.

Tavana Brown

The Kelly Miller Circus

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