Circus performers flew through the air with the greatest of ease, landing on the back of an elephant, at the Carson & Barnes Circus held Tuesday and Wednesday at Ogletree Gap Park in Copperas Cove.

As hundreds of visitors watched the amazing feats of animals and performers, behind the scenes, Copperas Cove city employees ensured the safety of both animals and citizens. Several city departments, including law enforcement, animal control, solid waste, parks and recreation, fire department, water department and code enforcement, were involved in the circus’ visit.

Animal control provided inspectors to ensure the humane treatment of the animals, looking for signs of abuse, illness, and improper safety procedures that could be dangerous to both animals and the public.

The fire department has been communicating with circus officials for the last two weeks ensuring all certifications were in place, said Copperas Cove Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young.

“We check flammability ratings, exit signs on tents, energy and exit lighting, and ensure all fire extinguishers are working,” he said. “Basically, we provide fire and life safety inspections.”

The average elephant produces approximately 15 gallons of urine and 200-plus pounds of solid waste in a 24-hour period. That along with all of the trash produced by guests attending each circus performance kept the city’s solid waste department busy. Finance Director Velia Key said the solid waste department was responsible for providing the roll-away trash dumpsters at the site.

Elephants drink a lot of water. An adult elephant will drink about 225 liters of water per day and each trunk-full can amount to 4-8 liters. The city’s Department of Public Works put in some barriers and a water meter and several taps to keep the animals hydrated.

Code enforcement ensures all permits have been requested according to city ordinance 2011-12. Section 3-19 requires the circus to have a state permit to operate within the city and the circus must provide a copy to the city upon request.

The parks and recreation department had the responsibility of getting Ogletree Gap Park ready for the circus, said Director Jonathan Pace.

“We prepare the grounds, cutting the grass, filling in ruts where cars will be parking and where spectators could fall,” he said. “The maintenance crew ensures the site is ready for the circus’ set up and will repeat the steps after the circus departs to ensure that the grounds are left in good shape.”

The city staff provides the same type of services for other events held within the city for public safety reasons, said Kevin Keller, public information officer.

“The benefit to the city is events of this nature are expected to attract visitors to our community who are likely to shop in our stores and eat at our restaurants, that equates to tax revenue for the city,” Keller said. “It could also provide the city with future residents.”

Contact Wendy Sledd at or (254) 501-7476

(1) comment


The Carson & Barnes Circus has come and gone and if caring area residents knew more about the cruel treatment of animals used by the circus, they'd think twice before welcoming it back.

Elephants used by Carson & Barnes spend most of their lives in chains and are routinely beaten with bullhooks (a rod with a sharp metal hook on the end). Carson & Barnes has paid almost $1,000 in fines to federal authorities for mishandling elephants and for injuries two elephants sustained when a trailer overturned.

Out of public view, trainers inflict pain and fear to force animals into submission. No government agency monitors training sessions. For animals in circuses, there is varying degrees of punishment and deprivation. Readers can learn more about the tainted history of Carson & Barnes Circus at

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