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Complaints lodged by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has resulted in charges being filed against a Florida circus, the group reports. The charges date back to a 2009 incident in which two elephants, Tina and Jewell, were taken from exhibitors working in partnership with the Cole Bros. Circus and transported to the San Diego Zoo for treatment, according to the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Sun News.

PETA claims the animals were forced to perform despite a lack of veterinary care and being hundreds of pounds underweight. Renee Storey, vice president of administration for Cole Bros., says that Jewell was treated in San Diego for a dental problem that had caused her to lose weight due to an inability to eat. Tina, she claims, was previously overweight and veterinarians were pleased with her weight loss. A report from the San Diego Zoo last October, however, states that both animals gained weight since their arrival, with Jewell gaining over 1,000 pounds.

Twelve charges in all were listed in a complaint by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has authority in the welfare of circus animals. PETA claims to have submitted video evidence of ongoing abuse as recently as June of this year, possibly prompting the charges.

Cole Bros., for its part, denies any wrongdoing and points out that the bullhooks (poles with pointed metal barbs at the end similar to a fireplace poker) PETA alleges were used to beat the elephants are not visible on the video. ““We deny the allegations. Our attorney is working on this, and we feel confident that the charges will be dropped,” Storey told the Sun News.

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