Sample Letters 

Some letter-writing advice pages encourage you to be brief and non-threatening. True, but so far, these techniques have not worked to ban the use of animals in circuses. 

It is possible to be courteous and not verbally abusive while expressing concerns aggressively. Being verbally abusive towards owners of these animals, will NOT help them. In fact, it may cause the owners/trainers to abuse them even more. Anyone takes offense to anyone who puts them down. It is more effective to state facts, ask questions and use courteous words.

It is always important to thank government leaders for any action they have taken in the past while strongly urging them to continue pursuing the banning of circus animals.

The following sample letters were written as examples by persuasive professional writers. Much of the information and ideas were compiled from several entries on a petition message board to retire Lota the elephant from Hawthorn. It is still recommended to use these ideas put into your own words. 

And when the USDA writes back to you and says they cannot take further action on this or that, please write back to them again and simply explain that we just cannot take no for an answer.

Please try to send your letters out every week or at least once a month. Keep harassing the government to stop this ridiculous abuse.

Dear Congressman:
Baby and adult elephants shackled in chains, drowned or electrocuted; adult elephants routinely beaten with ax handles, baseball bats, whipped, and electrocuted with electric prods; bears with broken noses and burnt feet, chimpanzees being clubbed; tigers being beat with whips; what do these have in common? This is real life horror of circus animals living lives of abuse and torture in the U.S. These atrocities are completely unacceptable to us and have to be stopped !

The abuse to circus elephants and animals has been exposed by a multitude of undercover videos. Eye witnesses have videos of Carson & Barnes trainer Tim Frisco instructing others to "BEAT THEM UNTIL THEY SCREAM". (See video at In front of spectators, he recently beat elephant baby Jennie for defecating in the ring. He thinks he is completely above the law. He has never been charged with animal abuse. Why not?

Sterling & Reid and Hawthorn trainer David Creech was just convicted of 3 counts of beating an elephant bloody, on October 2002 in Norfolk, Virginia. He only received a $600 fine.

The deplorable life of a circus elephant is to be chained all day, travel all year in either freezing or unbearable heat in unventilated trains and trucks, while trying to balance. Many animals have died in hot trucks. Tigers have broke off teeth trying to escape the heat of their cages. There is not adequate clean drinking water at the stops. They endure constant abuse and beatings. Tigers are confined to 4 x 5 cages most of their lives, just big enough to turn around in. Chimpanzees and bears are kept in filthy, tiny cages. 

Ringling Brothers crams elephants side by side in boxcars in all temperatures. Videos show elephants limping down the steep train ramps with stiff legs, trainers using blow torches, ankus hooks and whips. RINGLING BROTHERS started their trial this month - September 2003 - in Washington D.C District Court for violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for "BEATING, CHAINING and FORCED SEPARATION OF BABY ELEPHANTS FROM MOTHERS". The suit alleges USDA coverup of tuberculosis and death of baby elephants. They have a litany of USDA violations including drowning of babies. Ex-employee eye witnessed repetitive beatings of Nicole and baby Benjamin who drowned. 

HAWTHORN Company which rents out elephants is currently awaiting trial for 47 violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). They have had their license revoked twice. They allowed four endangered Asian elephants to die of tuberculosis. Owner Mr. John Cuneo maliciously put the public at risk by allowing the public to ride and pet them. LOTA, the 53 year old chronically sick female, was turned away at the Florida state line by police after they saw how sick she was in the truck. LOTA has a petition with 8000 worldwide signatures demanding her retirement. DELHIís feet were severely burned with formaldehyde. After a lifetime of beatings, elephants have rampaged, injuring and killing people. TYKE was beaten so badly by trainer John Caudhill of Walker Brothers Circus, that she fled in terror only to be gunned down by police in Hawaii. Hawthorn only received small fines from the USDA. The USDA gives 2 warnings before a citation is issued, therefore does not enforce the AWA severely enough. Unbelievable, but true. Contact the USDA for reports (919) 716-5532.

We canít understand why a "free" nation allows slavery of "Endangered Species" to go on. Why is it acceptable to exploit these species, bears and horses? There are only 30,000 Asian Elephants left in the world, a few tigers and chimpanzees, why do we allow abuse and cruelty to happen to the few in our country? There is no denying and no excuse for circus animal abuse. We must tighten up the law! 

We respectfully beseech and demand that you initiate and support a bill to "PROBIHIT THE USE OF EXOTIC AND NATIVE ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES AND TRAVELING SHOWS FOR DISPLAY FOR PROFIT, GIVING RIDES, WORK OR PERFORMING". Please do this in this Congressional session to stop the suffering. We must speak for the animals because they have no voice!
Best Regards,

(Send to everybody and let everybody see so!)


August 31, 2003

Dear Legislative Leaders,

Although I may not be a resident of your state, as a taxpayer and registered voter, I feel compelled to inform you of my support because the importance of this issue and your votes could mean a brighter future for all. I am writing to express my deepest concerns regarding the use of animals in [circus] performances where they are tortured to be trained. This matter needs immediate attention, not only on the state level, but more importantly on the federal level.

This is so very important to the future of the tortured beings within the circus industry Ė especially "Endangered Species" which are not protected from this torture under the ESA - as well as our children. These animals endure unspeakable abuse and it should be stopped NOW!

For example, the USDA found a 67-year-old elephant named Delhi at a leasing circus agency (Hawthorn Corp. of Ill.). Her trainers used undiluted formaldehyde to soak poor Delhi's feet causing severe tissue damage. The USDA described her in "a serious health emergency" and her owners still forced her to limp out into performances. Being elderly, it most likely hurt Delhi to perform stupid tricks. Her trainer, John Caudill, probably decided to show old Delhi that it would hurt even worse if she DIDNíT do the stupid tricks. Another 2-year-old baby elephant named Tia was punished with the common electric shock. Her trainers wrapped an electrical cord around an ax handle. Exposed wires at one end of the cord were fastened to two screws embedded in the handle. The other end was plugged into an electrical outlet. Each time the metal screws were pressed against her delicate skin, infant Tia was jolted with a 110-volt electrical current. She was nearly electrocuted like this every day for four months. By the time she was six, she died. (She was only a baby! Elephants, on the average, live to be 70.)

Other animals besides elephants suffer also. One former circus employee stated that "a sweet little innocent brown bear who never hurt anyone, sometimes had trouble balancing on the high wire. She was then beaten with long metal rods until she was screaming and bloody. She became so neurotic that she would beat her head against her small cage. She finally died." A Hudson News reporter who traveled with Ringling reported on the training of one chimpanzee: "Repeatedly, he was struck with a sturdy club. The thumps could be heard outside the arena building, and the screams further than that." (This violates code that protects chimpanzees. Unfortunately, the USDA has failed to enforce this code protecting primates, which is why they are being sued by the Fund for Animals.)

These stories, just to name a few, are true and come from news reporters, USDA federal inspection reports and former circus employees. These acts of severe cruelty go unpunished. These trainers are STILL getting away with this horrific torture. It seems to me these trainers should all have been arrested for severe animal cruelty, especially in the cases where they actually killed the animals, but they have not. Why?

In addition to these horrific stories, I have read a report that elephants had lesions and scars from mistreatment and training methods on their genital areas and sexual organs. These trainers are gouging bullhooks into reproductive organs and sexually abusing these endangered elephants. These trainers were not even arrested for sexual abuse, let alone severe animal cruelty. They are still out there torturing these poor innocent, magnificent beings.

Please look at this photo as a picture is worth a thousand words. This noble individual is severely emaciated from a human strain of Tuberculosis, a treatable and curable disease. ( This is Joyce. Her medical condition went untreated by Circus Vargas who deliberately denied her veterinary care. They killed her. The same thing happened to Hattie another Asian elephant. Both were forced to work in these conditions until the day they died. I find this completely unacceptable.

Also, please note that a recent judgement was made in a lawsuit against Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. They have been abusing animals for two centuries. A federal judge ruled that the case will go forward and evidence will be presented to prove that the circus has repeatedly violated the Endangered Species Act. I urge you to keep an eye on this trial.

It is scientific fact that animals have hearts pumping blood, just like we do. They have lungs just like we do. They have kidneys, livers, female and male reproductive organs just like we do. They have brains and spines just like we do. Therefore they have central nervous systems just like we do. Therefore, they feel pain just like we do. Scientific reports also state they grieve just like we do and in some cases even worse. An elephant named Damini starved herself to death grieving when her companion died giving birth to a stillborn calf. The heartbreaking story was in USA Today and can be read here:

Televised programs such as Animal Cops and Animal Precinct (two thumbs up!) show Law Enforcement Agents enforcing humane law. You see these agents confiscating animals in despair, yet the USDA does not confiscate circus animals in the same situations. Circus animals experience the same health care issues as these confiscated domestic animals such as when animals are emaciated or suffering from an act of abuse. These agencies also arrest those responsible for causing these animals' suffering. Yet, the circus animals stay in the abusive situations and the trainers do not get arrested because the USDA does not take the same action as ASPCA and HS agents. This is completely inconsistent and unfair.

I would like to point out that Kerala, India just passed a law to retire elephants at age 65 with full retirement benefits including a good "menu, health care and living conditions and entitled to vet checkups."

To educate yourself further regarding the circus industry, please visit or any of the info listed at USDA inspection records can be obtained by calling 919) 716-5532. Please look into this! People in the circus industry are CRIMINALS and RAPISTS and WORK AROUND OUR CHILDREN!

Please initiate a campaign to stop the use of elephants and other animals in circuses and other performing venues. At the very least, help the "Endangered Species" from being further tortured to be trained. The circus industry claims on itís applications to the US Fish and Wildlife Service that they are helping provide "Conservation Education." I cannot see how they are providing "conservation education" after reviewing undercover video tapes of training procedures which depict EXTREME VIOLENCE and torture on ENDANGERED SPECIES.í Please write up a bill, co-sponsor and/or most importantly vote YES to a prohibition of this torture inflicted by the circus industry. I can also provide you with more info any time.

Thank you for taking the time to consider supporting complete prohibition of [at least Endangered] animals in circuses. It is so very important to stop this unnecessary abuse so our children don't grow up seeing our country allowing this torture to continue.

Best Regards,



100 U.S. Senators, Hundreds of House Representatives, Presidential Leaders, Agriculture Committee Members, Wildlife Organizations, Animal Welfare Organizations


HTTP://WWW.PETATV.COM/CIRC.HTML - go right to click on; Circus Life: No Life for Wild Animals. - go to Media/Publications on the right are videos, see: Circus Elephant Abuse. - and go to Action Alerts, scroll down to Carson Barnes video.


In the 1970ís there were more than 600,000 Asian elephants. Now there are less than 30,000. Tigers are equally in trouble. By the time your grandchildren and great-grandchildren are grown, they will be gone.

**!ALARMING UPDATE: New 2003 census reveals ONLY 16,000 ASIAN ELEPHANTS LEFT IN THE WILD. ONLY HALF FROM 2000 (30,000)!! PLEASE do something to help save this magnificent creation from becoming extinct!! This is very alarming!


Letter regarding Delhi and circus animals in general:

Dear USDA, U.S. Senators, President, Vice-President, and U.S. Legislatures:

In reviewing a summary of reports conducted by the USDA on Hawthorn Corp., of Illinois, serious concerns are raised about an endangered elephant named Delhi. According to the USDA report summary posted online "Delhi had an open, draining, and bleeding wound on her nail. The area above the nail was swollen. The cuticles on both of her front feet were very overgrown. Delhi was limping in pain and favored her leg during the performance. Delhi had severe tissue damage to the front feet and several abscessed areas on her body, including areas on both hips, between the eyes, the anterior portion of the ear attachment, on her head, the elbows of both front legs, and the tail. Chemical burns on Delhi's feet were the result of the use of undiluted formaldehyde to soak Delhi's feet. On March 4, 2002, Delhi was found in a "serious health emergency." Both of her front legs were twice their normal size and were swollen up to her chest. She could not bend her front legs at the elbows, was reluctant to bear weight on her front legs, and had difficulty in walking."

According to the USDAís APHIS website, "Confiscated Animals. In severe cases of animal abuse, confiscation is an option under the AWA. Sometimes, AC cannot take this action because it is difficult to find an appropriate facility capable of or willing to house the animals. The regulations limit the types of situations under which AC can confiscate animals."

Delhi should have been confiscated. She was in "sustained suffering." Please explain why she was not confiscated when the highly reputable Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee offers to take such animals. I must demand that before or when the upcoming hearing on Cuneo and Hawthorn takes place, Delhi be confiscated because she has been in and was, according to USDA reports dated March 2002, in sustained suffering. I personally volunteer to make the arrangements to place her and arrange for fund raising for Delhi to move to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

Currently in the United States there are over 100 reputable animal sanctuaries that will take these animals. I personally volunteer to make phone calls and arrange for placement and funding campaigns of any animal the USDA confiscates from circuses or leasing agents such as Hawthorn.

It is my understanding that habitual violators of the Animal Welfare Act are to have their USDA licenses revoked. It certainly seems that John Cuneo, his Hawthorn trainers and the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus are all habitual violators of the AWA. With charges that equal more than $70,000 in Cuneo's case and over $100,000 in Ringling's case, these licenses should be revoked for habitual violations. Please explain why they are not.

The enclosed list of circus animal profiles is provided as just an example of the horror these innocent creatures endure in their lives with the circus. Please read the enclosed list with an open heart and mind.

These stories are absolutely horrendous and deplorable!!!! And absolutely unacceptable!! How, by the grace of God, can the United States allow this disgusting, unnecessary practice to continue?!!?!? It is absolutely retching. Please explain why the United States, our home Ė a supposed "free" country - can allow this evil atrocity to continue.

In addition to these horrific stories, I have read a report that elephants had lesions and scars from mistreatment and training methods on their genital areas and sexual organs. HOW CAN THIS CONTINUE??? It is my understanding that "sexual abuse" is ILLEGAL in this country. If these trainers are sexually abusing these ENDANGERED, elephants, they should be arrested!!! Please explain why these trainers were not arrested for sexual abuse.

As a taxpayer and registered voter, I feel compelled to DEMAND that animals be banned from circuses. I desperately urge you to reintroduce United States Congressman Sam Farr's bill Captive Elephant Accident Prevention Act-H.R. 2929 that would prohibit the use of elephants in circuses and traveling sideshows.  Or a similar bill that prohibits the use of ALL exotic animals in circuses in all 50 states. I am compelled to not stop pressuring legislatures until it is banned. I will encourage other tax-paying registered voters to continually put pressure on legislatures until it is banned also. And our group will continue to pressure the media to raise awareness of the desperate plight of circus animals. We will not stop until this animal cruelty is banned.

Thank you for everything the USDA has done to date. We the people appreciate it and I will speak for the animals as I'm sure they appreciate it also.


(name, address), taxpayer and registered voter

(Contact List)

Enclosed with this letter would be excerpts from the following stories: or

Letter regarding Lota:

The Honorable Ann M. Veneman
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave. S.W., Rm. 200-A
Washington, DC 20250


Dear Honorable Veneman,

Thank you for the USDAís recent actions against Hawthorn Corp. I am writing on behalf of more than 4000 tax-paying, registered voters who are CRYING OUT with anguish and disgust for the retirement of gentle, 53 year-old, Lota, an endangered Asian elephant, an individual, who suffers from Tuberculosis.

Many have written the USDA demanding the confiscation of Lota from John F. Cuneo, CEO of Hawthorn Corp., in Grayslake, Illinois. We now understand that USDA guidelines state that unless "the animal is in imminent danger or in sustained suffering" it cannot be "confiscated."

You understand our desires, so now we ask of you to please find another way to retire Lota. Our group is now beginning pressure on the media to raise awareness about the retirement of Lota also.

Generally in the United States, police dogs are retired at around age 7, racing greyhound dogs are generally retired at age 2-3 and race horses are generally retired at age 5 to 7. These are YOUNG to MIDDLE ages for these species. Please explain why endangered tigers and elephants - who can live an average of 60-70 years - are forced to work their ENTIRE lives?

I desperately urge you update the criteria to AT LEAST require that elephants should be retired before age 18 and big cats and other exotics by age 4. Please explain why no such criteria exists.

YOU have the power to establish stricter USDA guidelines as stated in the AWA. We voted for you, please help us now.

Circus trainers have testified to the USDA that circus animals endure daily systematic punishment. Elephants, who are indeed majestic, magnificent beings, are routinely beaten with electric prods to instill constant fear. Testimony from experts states that captivity for elephants causes severe stress and depression. Itís atrocious to think that endangered elephants are being forced to work in circuses. Yet the United States allows this to continue and calls it humane? Please explain.

Thanks to recent action by the USDA, Lota has grown healthier. We do know this. But should poor Lota drop dead in the hands of Cuneo, there will be an unbearable amount of bad publicity for Hawthorn AND the USDA.

I ask you to please remember that this is a FREE country and Lota is a SLAVE and so are all circus animals. The public outcry to retire Lota is just part of a major campaign to ban exotic animals in circuses for good. Expect more pressure in the future on this issue.

The USDA inspection report on Hawthorn Corp. dated October 11, 2001 clearly states that "Upon "Lota's" return to the Illinois facility, the property manager stated that she had never seen "Lota" so thin. The property manager stated she thought that "Lota" was doing better, she thought she had gained a lot of weight back. The last recorded weight known to this inspector was made in 1997; "Lota's" weight was recorded at 3100 kg (approx: 6,800 lbs)."

This report does not indicate an aggressive inspection. Please explain why Lotaís weight was not recorded during that period and why did the inspector not get the name of the circus that rented her prior to her emaciated return and inspect them immediately?

I urge the USDA to inspect Hawthorn and itís leasing circuses more regularly such as once a month or more. Although I appreciate what the USDA has done so far, my senator informed me that more funds have been set aside to enforce the Animal Welfare Act so my request for more inspections is not unreasonable.

Please send me copies of current USDA reports on Hawthorn and Lota and keep me updated as the funds are currently being raised to help her retirement at the Elephant Sanctuary and the public WILL NOT QUIT until she is retired.

Thank you greatly for your attention to this matter. Without your recent charges against Cuneo and the requiring of veterinary care, Lota surely would have died by now. I appreciate all the USDA has done so far.


(your name), taxpayer and registered voter
City, State Zip
(Emails and phone numbers optional)

Chester Gipson, USDA
Peter Fernandez, USDA
The Honorable Jill Clifton, USDA
Governor Rod. R. Blagojevich, Illinois
Bernandez Juarez, USDA
United States Sentators
National Audubon Society
Sierra Club
The Humane Society of the United States
National Wildlife Federation
World Wildlife Fund
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Office of William Jefferson Clinton
President George W. Bush
Vice President Cheney
Council for the Retirement of Lota
Press releases have gone out and will continue to reach major media sources until Lota is retired.

Tip: If your letter gets to be too long (more than two pages), you can always widen the margins and make the font smaller. If you have two pages, part of page two should be your cc list.

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