Dozens of animals of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which has its winter quarters here, are being detained in Japan because of a contract dispute between the circus owners and a Japanese promotion company.
A State Department official in Washington said the dispute apparently involves money the promoter, Japan Educational Corp., says it is owed.
Spokesman David Denny said the State Department has sent a cable to Tokyo telling U.S. Embassy officials to "take all appropriate action" to help get the animals out of Japan.
A spokesman for the circus said its performances in Japan had been scheduled to run through Sept. 28, but the promoter closed the show Sunday.
The detained menagerie includes Big Tusk, billed as the world's largest elephant, along with other elephants, tigers, leopards, baboons, camels, llamas, lions, horses, zebras and bears.