Bradenton man under fire by PETA for elephant treatment

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging it to confiscate four ailing elephants from Bradenton-based exhibitor Jorge Barreda and retire the animals to a qualified sanctuary.

“The USDA has repeatedly cited Barreda, who leases elephants to the UniverSoul Circus, for failing to remedy the elephants’ foot problems, which are seriously and potentially fatal,” a media release states.

The USDA has formally warned Barreda about the incident, but PETA said it wants more action to be taken under the Animal Welfare Act.

“We have been monitoring the situation for a while,” said Delcianna Winders, director of captive animal law enforcement for PETA. “Elephant feet are extremely sensitive so having them in a traveling circus is hard on them and requires really intensive foot care to prevent problems.”

Winders said the organization has received several complaints about the welfare of the animals from activists and members of the public.

Barreda could not be reached for comment.