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Urge the USDA to Take Elephants Carrying TB Antibodies off the Road

January 25, 2013


Elephants who have tested positive for antibodies of the human strain of tuberculosis (TB) are currently crisscrossing the country and being forced to perform in circuses despite their fragile health and the very real risk of transmission to humans and other elephants.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for protecting animals, and the agency recently announced that in order to fulfill that responsibility, it intends to adopt recommendations made by the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA)—one of the foremost organizations in the country aiming to prevent, control, and eliminate disease—that call for increased precautions regarding TB in elephants. Under the recommendations, numerous elephants currently forced to travel and perform with circuses despite testing positive for TB antibodies would need to be removed from the road, protecting not only the elephants’ health but also human health.

As explained in a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, tuberculosis is highly transmissible from elephants to humans—even without direct contact. Indeed, tuberculosis carried by an elephant was recently linked to an outbreak in Tennessee among nine humans, some of whom had no direct contact with the elephant. In addition, the stress of being on the road and constantly forced to perform makes it more likely that elephants used in circuses will suffer from TB. Despite these serious risks, it has taken years for the USDA to begin deliberations on this topic, and money-hungry circuses that profit from exploiting elephants are vigorously opposing adoption of the recommendations. We need your help to ensure that the USDA adopts these recommendations without further delay—for the sake of both animal welfare and public safety!  

Circuses will continue to keep these animals on the road until forced to do otherwise by the USDA. Please take a moment now to submit a comment to the USDA urging it to protect public health and animal welfare by adopting the USAHA’s updated elephant TB guidelines without further delay. You may submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

Feel free to use the sample comment below, but remember that a personalized comment is always more effective. Public comments are highly regarded, and officials listen to them when making decisions, so please also share this alert with anyone who cares about animal welfare or public health!


Please click HERE to submit your comment electronically


I am writing to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to adopt the United States Animal Health Association’s (USAHA) 2010 Guidelines for the Control of Tuberculosis in Elephants without further delay.

Numerous elephants known to carry antibodies to a form of tuberculosis that is highly transmissible to humans are currently crisscrossing the country and performing with circuses. I applaud you for your intention to adopt the updated guidelines, and I ask that you incorporate the USAHA’s 2010 guidelines in their entirety into your enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and ensure that elephants who carry tuberculosis antibodies are removed from the road in order to protect both animal and human health.  These elephants should then be retired to reputable sanctuaries or preserves.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent appeal.

elephants in circuses
should not be.
and transporting
elephants with TB.
a potential health disaster
and a travesty!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2013 1:45 pm

    elephants in circuses
    should not be.
    and transporting
    elephants with TB.
    a potential health disaster
    and a travesty!!!


  2. January 25, 2013 2:25 pm

    Signed and lengthy letter written. Thank you for raising public awareness of this urgent call for humanity. Thank you for lending voice to living beings who cannot speak for themselves.

    The Price of a Circus Seat:

    Many Blessings!

    ~Gerean Pflug for The Animal Spirits


  3. January 25, 2013 2:26 pm

    Will post a link to this post on our Facebook page at:


  4. January 25, 2013 3:09 pm

    Thanks Stacey comments sent i hate circuses im going to protest ringling in philly PA when they come on Feb 13 and everday they are here i will be there porotesting thanks to all for speaking out against the unspeakable! And Karen another great poem! xoxo shared in several places


    • January 25, 2013 6:01 pm

      Thank you for your commitment! You are a gem, Florence, thank you for all you do.


    • karenlyonskalmenson permalink
      January 28, 2013 3:05 am

      thank you florence!


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