Big Top Gets Big Trial

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Status: Current
Originally Posted: 4 February 2009

Big Top Gets Big Trial

Ringling case begins February 4!

Published 02/04/09 by Zibby Wilder, Director of Public Relations, Born Free USA

Beginning today, February 4, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus and its parent company, Feld Entertainment, will finally stand trial to face charges that the circus mistreats its Asian elephants in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act.

This case has been going on for more than eight years, and what a long eight years it has been! Born Free USA’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Nicole Paquette, Esq., is excited for the elephants’ day to finally come. Nicole is also a witness in the case.

Nicole will be keeping all of our supporters updated directly from the trial. She will be posting regular blogs as well as Twittering on all of the developments. If you aren’t signed up to have our blog emailed directly to your inbox, sign up here. And, click here to follow Born Free USA on Twitter!

But what does it really all mean? Ringling claims that we are trying to shut down the circus — in truth what the plaintiffs seek is to stop the abuse of elephants in the circus.

A circus is a form of entertainment and performers should have the right to choose to entertain the public. Elephants in the circus don’t have this choice. They may be stolen from their mothers, beaten into submission with bullhooks and confined in chains. They are carted across the U.S. in train cars, more than 11,000 miles and 11 months at a time, to spend minutes in the ring. And their service is repaid by more chains, more bullhooks, more loneliness, more pain.

Ringling claims we’re making it all up but the evidence really does speak for itself. Evidence from the trial notes one of Ringling’s own animal behaviorist reporting “an elephant dripping blood all over the arena floor from being hooked,” and documentation of elephants spending, on average, more than 26 hours at a time chained in boxcars. Sometimes for as much as 60-100 hours. Video shows a Ringling elephant named Shirley in labor and nearly incapacitated by chains on three of her legs, hit repeatedly with a bullhook as her baby Riccardo is born — and taken from her. Eight months later, Riccardo was dead, euthanized after he broke both legs falling off a circus pedestal.

I don’t see how anyone once they are made aware of all the facts can still justify the purchase of a ticket to Ringling’s circus.

Thanks for your support of Born Free USA and our pursuit of this case. We are excited that the elephants will finally have their day in court and we look forward to your continued support with this groundbreaking case and all of the important work we do on behalf of animals.

For the elephants!

For more information, visit Born Free USA.

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