B-52s Want Carson & Barnes Circus To Stop Using Band’s Music In Elephant Act

PETA advocates since the 1980s, the group feels that circuses treat animals poorly.

The B-52s attend the 10th Annual TV Land Awards, April 14, 2012
Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images

PETA advocates since the 1980s, the group feels that circuses treat animals poorly.

New wave band the B-52s want the Carson & Barnes Circus to stop playing their songs during its elephant act and have sent the company a cease-and-desist letter.

The Hugo, Oklahoma-based entertainment company started out as a “dog and pony” show in 1937 before becoming a full-fledged Big Top Circus, and has been family-owned-and-operated for four generations, according to the Carson & Barnes‘ website. There have been more than 30,000 performances across the United States from the traveling troupe.

The current schedule has the circus hitting various cities in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and New Mexico during the month of September. The show features acts such as acrobats, clowns, jugglers, horses, and Asian elephants.

It is the elephant routine that has the members of the B-52s — Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson, and Keith Strickland — concerned.

The group recently found out from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) that the two songs they contributed to the soundtrack of the 1994 film The Flintstones, “(Meet) The Flintstones” and “The Bedrock Twitch,” were used during the elephant portion of the program at a recent performance in Kissimmee, Florida, and they want the Carson & Barnes Circus to immediately remove the tunes from the show. The B-52s also want the organization to consider taking all animal acts out of the show as the quartet feel that having those creatures perform is a form of animal cruelty.

In the band’s cease-and-desist-letter to the circus’ owners, Geary and Barbara Miller Byrd, which was posted in its entirety on PETA‘s website, the B-52s said they were “alarmed” after finding out that “animal care director” Tim Frisco was using their tunes in the act.

“We’ve seen the footage of Frisco cursing at elephants, shocking them with electric prods, and telling his trainers to drive bullhooks, heavy weapons with sharp steel tips, into their bodies and twist them until the animals scream in pain,” the foursome wrote, referring to an undercover video PETA posted on YouTube in 2016 showing the circus’ alleged animal abuse.

“We’re also aware of Carson & Barnes’ multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act for failing to provide animals with minimum space, protection from the weather, and necessities such as clean water and adequate veterinary care.”

The letter then explains how several circuses have completely removed animal acts from their shows, relying on human performers only, or gone out of business because they refused to remove the creatures from the show.

If the Carson & Barnes Circus doesn’t comply with the B-52s’ demand, the artists behind the massive hit “Love Shack” will “pursue all applicable legal remedies available.”

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“We and our songs are all about freedom and fun — things that animals in the circus sadly never experience,” the group stated.

To further prove their seriousness about the subject at hand, vocalists Pierson and Wilson also filmed a video, spliced with a B-52s concert clip of their song “Roam” and the footage showing the alleged animal abuse, for PETA in which they discuss the cease-and-desist-letter and “cruel circus” Carson & Barnes’ training methods.

Rolling Stone reached out to Carson & Barnes for a statement. Spokesperson Jennifer Wisener told the magazine that “the songs in question were used during a performance under the control of another entertainment entity,” although she would not clarify the name of the “entertainment entity.”

“Our elephants did participate in a circus performance that featured a Flintstone production,” said Wisener. “However, Carson & Barnes Circus had no control over the music selection that played during that performance.”

The B-52s are currently on tour, performing across the U.S. until the end of October, with Boy George and Culture Club and the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey.