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."