While commenting to the government on animal training,
Ringling compared bull hooks and whips on animals to methods used to
teach children. "Negative reinforcement occurs daily when a child is
told 'no' or is physically prevented from engaging in an unwanted or
inappropriate behavior. Similarly, negative reinforcement and discipline
are tools which ultimately protect the animal and the individuals
working with the animal; by discouraging and eliminating unwanted
behavior, the animal's life is enriched and safer."
The Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus has committed
some of the most disgusting acts of cruelty toward circus animals. Not
only do they have a string of USDA inspection reports (more than 100
instances since 1992) riddled with circumstances in which Ringling
failed to abide by the minimal federal regulations, but the majority of
their elephants have actually been stolen from the wild, one of the
cruelest acts that can be committed against an animal. In addition,
Ringling would love to have you believe that, in their own words, "the
relationship between animals and humans is built on mutual respect,
trust, and affection." Yet, Ringling trainers caught on video have been
shown demonstrating activities that can be called anything but
respectful and affectionate.
2/99: During a USDA inspection, an inspector reported
that "there were large visible lesions on the rear legs of both 'Doc'
and 'Angelica' " (baby elephants). When questioned as to the cause of
these lesions, it was stated that "these scars were caused by rope
burns, resulting from the separation process from the mothers."
1/24/98: An endangered baby Asian elephant, "Kenny," who
was performing in the Ringling circus, was forced to perform in two
shows despite the fact that he was obviously sick. He died only hours
later. Kenny had been taken from his mother at only two years of age and
sent on the road where he was chained when he was not performing.
1/7/98: Graham Chipperfield, a Ringling trainer, shot a
caged tiger, "Arnold", five times after the tiger had attacked another
trainer, Chipperfield's brother, earlier that day.
* In addition to the horrendous treatment shown to its
captive animals, Ringling has also failed to provide for the mere
safekeeping of its animals:
7/26/99, Texas: A young elephant drowned in a pool
during a travel stop in Texas. The elephant was the fifth Ringling
Circus animal to die in the last 18 months.
2/22/99, Norfolk, VA: A 15 year-old Polish Arabian
horse, named "Sabre", collapsed and died during a procession of the
animals to a civic center. Polish Arabian horses may live to the age of
* Still, Ringling is not alone in its mistreatment of
8/21/99: "Petunia," an Asian elephant, died at Clyde
Beatty-Cole Bros.' winter headquarters in Florida several weeks after
suffering severe injuries to her back and hindquarters. "Petunia's"
injuries resulted from a tent pole collapsing on top of her as she was
being worked to help raise the circus's big top for a performance.
6/98: During two separate inspections of the Clyde
Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus, the USDA's APHIS found several elephants with
wounds evidently inflicted by abusive use of an ankus (elephant hook).
In a press release issued by the agency, the USDA stated, "We believe
that Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus abusively used an elephant hook
on several animals."
4/3/98: Eight horses were turned over to the San
Bernardino Humane Society after they were found to be malnourished. The
Sterling & Reid Brothers Circus was charged with cruelty to animals.
8/6/97: An elephant in the King Royal Bros. Circus,
named "Heather," was found dead inside a trailer carrying two other
elephants and eight llamas. Police, who spotted the vehicle swaying in a
parking lot, estimated the temperature inside the vehicle to be 120
degrees. Necropsy results gave the cause of death as salmonella
poisoning complicated by malnutrition and stress. "Heather" had been
taken as a baby from her African homeland shortly before the Convention
on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned the trade in
Asian and African elephants in 1990.
8/1/97: An employee of Allen Brothers Circus was charged
with four counts of animal cruelty for leaving two Bengal tigers and two
lions for over eight hours in a disabled trailer along a road near Lima,
Ohio. A marketing coordinator for the Toledo Zoo said, "the animals were
in a metal trailer in the hot sun without access to water."
10/20/95: A 14-year-old puma in the Russian All-Star
Circus, named "Nice," was found dead in his cage. The suspected cause
8/19/91: Several witnesses reported a man beating a baby
elephant with a shovel after he pulled his truck into a restaurant
parking lot. The elephant and the man were in town with the Great
American Circus. One witness said she could hear the elephant shrieking
from inside the restaurant. Another said the man hit the elephant 15 or
20 times with a shovel, then left when he noticed people staring at him.
These travesties committed against the animal kingdom
must not be allowed to continue! Several countries, such as Sweden,
India, Finland, Switzerland, and Denmark, have banned the use of live
animals in entertainment. Circuses with animal acts are often denied
public space in England. In the US, many local and state governments
have outlawed animal acts. However, the majority of states continue to
allow circuses with animal entertainment to stop in their towns. While a
particular state's anti-cruelty statutes may be directly violated by the
cruel training techniques inflicted upon performing animals, USDA
licensed operations are exempt from such statutes in a handful of
states. This means that the torture is allowed to continue despite what
state laws say. In two states, circuses are exempt completely from the
anti-cruelty statues, which means that prosecution of abuse and torture
committed against the circus animals is most likely impossible.
For help in proposing legislation to ban live animal
entertainment in your state, contact the Humane Society of the United
States Government Affairs staff at 2100L Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
210037 or (202) 452-1100.
For more information, visit www.hsus.org/current/circus_law.html
To read the USDA reports of circuses with live animal entertainment,
Go on to Where Are
the Regulating Bodies?
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