As Court Rules Against Ringling Bros. Circus
United States Court of Appeals dismisses previous
court's ruling that plaintiffs lack standing.
WASHINGTON (February 5, 2003) - The U.S. Court of
Appeals overturned a lower court decision that dismissed a case on
procedural grounds charging Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
with violating the Endangered Species Act. The ruling clears the way for
the case brought by a former Ringling Brother's employee, the American
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Animal
Welfare Institute (AWI), and The Fund for Animals to present their case
that Ringling Brothers routinely beats its elephants with bull hooks to perform.
The decision by the court which grants the plaintiffs
standing was based strongly upon the statements of former Ringling Bros.
elephant trainer and co-plaintiff in the case, Tom Rider, who while
employed by Ringling Brothers, witnessed routine beatings of the circus
elephants with bull hooks.
Consequently the United States Court of Appeals
unanimously found that Tom Rider suffers "aesthetic and emotional
injury" from seeing the elephants perform in the circus. The court found
that Rider developed "a strong, personal attachment to these animals"
while working with the elephants at Ringling Bros. for two years.
"The ASPCA is extremely pleased with the court's
decision which allows us to pursue this case. We believe we will
successfully prove that Ringling Bros. engages in ongoing abuse of the
elephants during the separation process of babies from their mothers,
and in the training of elephants to perform" stated Lisa Weisberg,
senior vice president of Government Affairs and Public Policy at the
ASPCA. "We think that the public deserves to know the truth about what
goes on under the 'Big Top'" continues Michael Markarian, President for
The Fund for Animals. Cathy Liss, President for the Animal Welfare
Institute concludes, "Elephants including babies have suffered greatly
at the hands of Ringling Brothers, our lawsuit simply seeks to stop the
The groups are represented in the case by the public
interest law firm of Meyer & Glitzenstein. Ms. Katherine Meyer argued
the case for the appellants.
A copy of the court's order is available by visiting:
Rocky Mountain Coordinator
The Fund for Animals
P.O. Box 11294
Jackson, WY 83002
Telephone: (307) 859-8840
Fax: (307) 859-8846
Go on to Compassion
For Animals Action Symposium
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