Garden Bros. Circus sells tickets for Minneapolis shows, without animal permits

The circus is advertising elephants, camels, llamas, and buffalo, even though Minneapolis has denied its permit request.

The circus is advertising elephants, camels, llamas, and buffalo, even though Minneapolis has denied its permit request. Garden Bros. promotional poster

The Garden Bros. Circus – “A family tradition for over 100 years!” – is coming to the Minneapolis Convention Center this weekend for six shows over two days.

Online, the show advertises “everything you’d expect to see at a circus,” an “all new, fast paced, totally exciting show” that includes elephants, camels, llamas, horses, and buffalo, in addition to motorcycle daredevils and Chinese acrobats.

The experience would be dazzling and cheap, with prices running from $36 for a VIP ringside seat to $8 for a child ticket. The first 100 adults to buy were eligible for nearly half off general admission. Those tickets already sold out.

Certainly the Florida-based circus, which has a D- rating with the Better Business Bureau based on customer complaints about no-shows, false advertising, and shitty VIP seating, would deliver everything it promises.

Well, Garden Bros. -- a.k.a. Piccadilly Circus, a.k.a. Circus America -- most certainly will not have its animal acts this weekend, unless it’s willing to pay a $2,000 fine for failing to obtain an exotic animal permit from Minneapolis Animal Care and Control.

According to city ordinance, circuses need to file an application with Animal Care and Control no less than 90 days prior to the show, and include information on veterinary records to prove that adequate care would be provided to prevent animal suffering and disease transmission, as well as safety plans for restraining the animals.

Owners are supposed to disclose a complete history of animal cruelty violations they’ve gotten anywhere in the country.

Minneapolis spokesman Casper Hill confirmed Tuesday that Garden Bros. had been denied a permit for the type of show it’s advertising.

“The city of Minneapolis denied exotic animal permits for the Garden Bros. Circus because there is not nearly enough time for the needed inspections,” Hill says.

“Before any exotic animal permits are granted to circuses, Minneapolis Animal Care & Control needs to conduct thorough inspections of the business. This includes having a city inspector travel to where a particular circus is currently operating – at the circus’ expense – to inspect its operations. Every animal that is part of a circus show needs to be inspected as well. For this reason, applications need to be made at least 90 days prior to the planned event. The application we received for Garden Bros. Circus’ June 3-4 show dates came into the city last Friday.”

Garden Bros. did not respond for comment.

Dan Hendrickson, spokesman for the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota, says Garden Bros.' advertising is worthy of the attorney general's attention.

"Our hope would be the responsible thing would be to adjust their advertising and say we’re doing this abbreviated show," he says. "My hope is the city’s watching closely. We can’t shut them down. By the time we get an advertising review challenge going they’ll be on to the next town."