[Letters] Circus Abuses Animals

June 27, 2012

In response to the article, "Under the Big Top" in (Vol. 10, Issue 40) June 13-19: The article was written with a magical and nostalgic feeling. But the reality of circus life for animals is filled with abuse. They live a dismal life in which they are tormented, confined and violently trained. Workers routinely beat, shock and whip (the animals) until they learn to perform meaningless tricks that are confusing to them. In the past year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture fined Ringling Bros. Circus $270,000 for animal abuse after an extensive investigation.

With all the undercover video available on the Internet, clearly showing Ringling Bros. Employees torturing animals, it's stunning that anyone would want to support that.

—Meghan Elizabeth, Jackson

Ringling Bros. Responds: On June 22, the JFP asked Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Ringling Brothers, why many people accused Ringling Bros. Circus of mistreating animals. Payne replied by putting the onus on the non-profit animal advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "PETA has a different philosophical agendas than we do," Payne said. "PETA doesn't even believe in owning pets. PETA knows that if they were able to bring down Ringling Bros., the most profitable circus, they'd get a lot of funding for their cause. Our animal trainers do not abuse our animals."

Comments

NoAnimalsInTheCircus 2 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Payne's attempt at "Ringling spin tactics" is useless - this is not about PETA; this is about animals who are subject to inhumane confinement and who are horrifically abused: magnificent big cats like lions and tigers are housed in cramped cages, majestic elephants are shackled and chained in trucks and train box cars; training methods utilize violence, fear, and intimidation to make animals perform ridiculous unnatural stunts. For the few minutes you see animals “performing” they suffer a lifetime of misery. Not only is the physical abuse appalling, but the deprivation of any natural behaviors, choices and instincts is cruel.

The overwhelming evidence and documentation of the abuse animals endure in Ringling Bros. service, as well as the $270,000 settlement fine paid by Ringling Bros. for violations of the Animal Welfare Act - the largest ever assessed to an animal exhibitor by the USDA – is irrefutable.  http://www.ad-international.org/adi_usa/go.php?id=2493  Ringling Bros. dismissed this “settlement” as “the cost of doing business.” Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment, testified under oath that his trainers routinely hit elephants with bullhooks, whip them, and use electric prods on them. He even admitted to witnessing this. http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/10/ringling-bros-elephant-abuse

If you've ever wondered how Ringling Bros. gets an 8,000 pound elephant to perform the ridiculous stunts you see, it starts at their pseudo “Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation” which is nothing more than a breeding and torture “training” facility. Baby elephants are ripped away from their mothers to endure cruel, violent, painful training sessions using ropes, bullhooks, and electric shock prods. Warning: Graphic http://www.ringlingbeatsanimals.com/bound-babies.asp

On November 2, 2011 Congressman Jim Moran introduced The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act, H.R. 3359, a bill extremely vital to the lives of these animals, to ending this cruelty and protecting the public. http://breakthechainus.com/ If passed, this federal bill would amend the Animal Welfare Act to restrict the use of exotic and non-domesticated animals in circuses and traveling shows.

The more knowledgeable the public becomes about the plight of circus animals, the less inclined they will be to support and attend circuses that abuse and exploit these great animals.

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stkittchick 2 years, 3 months ago

Why give Ringling Bros. a chance to read off it's PR release in response to a letter to the editor? Let them submit a letter if they want to respond. This is a multimillion dollar a year corporation who will say anything to keep the public duped about the horrific ways it treats animals. Look at the baby elephant in the picture -- it's sadistic, reprehensible ... and standard operating procedure at Ringling.

Who with a shred of decency would still buy a ticket to this circus? What parent or grandparent wants their little ones to think that beating animals, ripping them from their families and denying them everything they want and need is something to cheer about?!

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donnaladd 2 years, 3 months ago

Because it's the journalistically ethical thing to do when someone is being accused.

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Charron 2 years, 3 months ago

People who believe that having elephants (& other wild animals in traveling circuses) is humane need to educate themselves, or just use your common sense and think about things for a minute. Simply go online and read up on it, or just think about it logically. Think of the size of the elephant. Think about how and where the elephant would have to be kept during various times of a typical day, 365 days of the year, as part of a traveling circus. The FACTS are that elephants (& other wild animals) are horribly and cruelly confined in order to be transported about the country and only kept at the various locations for usually a day or two. Elephants are typically chained by the ankle and forced to stand such that they can move only a step or two in any direction, and kept this way almost every hour of each 24 hr. day. Sometimes after setting up the circus tent is completed they may have an extremely small outside area surrounded by a electric fence. During the night, and in bad weather,they are forced to spend it inside a truck. And when en route to their next location they are confined and hauled around in the back of trucks for hours and hours, and then when arriving at their destination have to stay in those trucks typically for many more hours while waiting for things to get setup. Ringling Bros. transports most of the time via trains 50 boxcars, with their Red and Blue Units each covering 16,000 miles annually to perform in 30-plus cities. Data in court case testimony re Ringling revealed that the elephants traveled 26 hours straight on average. Some legs extended beyond 70 hours without a break. The longest stretch: 100 hours on a 1,830-mile journey from Lexington, Kentucky, to Tucson, Arizona. Up to five elephants are crammed in each boxcar. The average elephant produces approximately 15 gallons of urine and 200-plus pounds of solid waste in a 24-hour period. Former circus workers described the unbearable stench when they opened the cars for water stops—during which they typically replenished supplies without letting the animals out. For more on this read this Pulitzer Prize winning article: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2011/10/ringling-bros-elephant-abuse?page=1 So I have only touched on the confinement. There also is the extremely well documented, and admitted to, physically abusive training techniques that are how the elephants are forced to do the "tricks" for the circusgoer's amusement. Just educate yourself by visiting any one of countless respected websites, such as those of ADI (Animal Defenders International), www.circuses.com, www.morebeautifulwild.com. Also there is an excellent very detailed extensive publication by Animal Defenders International on the Science of Suffering (re wild animals in traveling circuses) which you can read: https://www.ad-international.org/admin/downloads/SCS_US_rep_FINAL_Jun%2015%2008_LOW%20RES.pdf

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Turtleread 10 months, 1 week ago

I have always suspected that this was true, but never could prove it. I don't expect to attend another circus again.

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