A full two months later, the USDA investigated and found that Bunny was in fact limping, noting in an inspection report that she was holding her limb in a way that was "suggestive of some underlying problem that may be causing discomfort." Both Omar and the circus' veterinarian claimed not to have recognized the issue.
"Habib [Omar] and the other workers there hadn't even noticed," Matthews said, which meant Bunny had gone without medical treatment for several months.
"Elephants often experience chronic pain, stiffness, and soreness as a result of being chained, forced to stand on hard surfaces, and being denied adequate exercise," Katie Arth, a media assistant manager for PETA, told The Dodo. "In the wild, elephants spend most of their waking hours being active - walking, grazing, and socializing - but in the circus their movement is extremely restricted."
And back in June, the circus agreed to to pay a $16,000 fine after the USDA cited it for a 2014 incident, in which the circus asked audience members to bang on their seats and make noise, causing several elephants to become frightened and break free - two of the animals were left with cuts after the incident.
"Carson & Barnes is notorious for forcing ailing animals to travel and perform despite unrelieved pain and suffering," Brittany Peet, director of captive animal law enforcement for PETA, said in a statement earlier this year.