Aug 13, 2015 1:55 PM
Photo of sickly horse prompts investigation into circus company involved in Lancaster tent collapse
SOUTH HIRAM, Maine - More controversy is brewing for the Walker Brothers Circus after a tent collapse 10 days ago in Lancaster killed a father, his 6-year-old daughter and injured at least 50 more.
A photo sent to NH1 News by a viewer shows a picture of one of the latest stops on the circus circuit, in South Hiram, Maine, and what appears to be an emaciated horse.
Maureen Prendergast, an animal cruelty investigator with the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire who has not seen the horse in person said the picture is disturbing.
"Looking at a picture of a horse like this, I might be inclined to give it a body condition score of one or two, which is poor or very thin," Prendergast said.
But she added, "We wouldn't want to make a decision just based on the photo but certainly a photo like that causes me a bit of concern."
This wouldn't the first time the Walker Brothers Circus has been associated with animal cruelty, though.
In 2001, the circus faced $25,000 in fines for a series of violation while operating without an Animal Welfare Act license.
The 2001 violations - which resulted in a five-year license suspension - included failing to get adequate veterinary care for elephants with severe chemical burns and a bacterial infection and elephants with overgrown footpads and toenails.
They were also cited for failing to get treatment for an elephant that was excessively thin and failing to have a proper distance or barrier between elephants and the public during a viewing.
Another citation in 1997 was for failing to provide adequate veterinary care, failing to maintain complete records on animals and not providing structurally sound enclosures in good repair.
Their license was suspended for 30 days.
When the circus didn't pay a $5,000 fine, the USDA sued for an additional $2,700 in fines and penalties.
The circus is now in upstate New York where animal cruelty officers say they are investigating.