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The Worcester City Council and Ringling Bros. Circus

Thursday, October 4th, 2012


By Rosalie Tirella

The above photo says it all, doesn’t it? Underscores the cruelty/absurdity of wild animal acts in circuses. Wild, undomesticated, man-eating big cats weighing hundreds of pounds, standing on their tippy toes – for its trainer, for you, for your kids – for YOUR entertainment. Tigers living in India or Africa, where they roam hundreds of miles to hunt, eat, mate, raise their young ones brought to cities like Worcester on trains, baking in the summer in their box cars, freezing in the winter in their boxcars. Tigers and other large predators keep ecosystems in check … . They are gorgeous … . They are wild creatures that belong in the wild. But we keep them in tiny cages and make idiots of them … literally make them mad/insane.

Why does America do this to beautiful wild things? (Circuses showcasing wild animals are banned in the European Union.) Why does America continue to do what we have been doing since the white man enslaved black men, women and children and killed all the Indians? Why do we hold onto this last bit of American brutality? Why do we enslave? Why do we refuse to see the truth: that these animals do not belong anywhere near Worcester or humans – forced/tortured to do stupid tricks. Hate to admit this, but there is poetic justice every time one of the performing tigers or lions or elephants, at wit’s end, mauls/kills his/her trainer. “Turns on them” – as if the animals were ever on our side.  Of course, then, we acknowledge the lion’s/tiger’s wildness and kill it immediately.

How does Worcester fit into all this?

A few years ago a friend and I went to visit then Mayor Joe O’Brien. I liked Joe being mayor of Worcester, thought he was incredibly sensitive to people and animals. I believed if Worcester were to follow in the steps of other Mass citites like Northampton, Cambridge and heck, even Revere, and BAN wild animal acts from our fair city, now would be the time to strike. So many people in Worcester love and care for abused animals or adopt homeless dogs from animal shelters or feed feral cat colonies! (I have done all of this and maintained two feral cat colonies for TEN YEARS!)

Any ways, my friend and I went to Joe O’Brien and told him how we – and lots of local folks – felt about circuses that showcase wild animal acts. Joe being Joe, didn’t need any educating or convincing. He told us he was on the animals’ side and that he would be behind a new proposed ordinance in Worcester: NO WILD ANIMAL acts in Worcester.

YES to clowns and Cirque de Soleil and acrobats and all magicians and huge marionettes and Bread and Circus! NO to tigers and lions and elephants and all the companies that parade them in front of  us humans! Joe O’Brien (now a Worcester city councilor) felt the cirucs was no way to expose kids – especially working class kids – to nature/Africa/wild animals/ecosystems. He told us Ringling Bros Circus had called his office – the mayor’s office – to do a kind of public relations stunt/photo op: The Mayor of Worcester hangs out on CITY HALL Common and feeds the circus elephants! The mayor (and thus, all of Worcester!) welcomes the wonderful circus to our city! Joe’s office said NO THANKS.  No one was rude to Ringling, no one pontificated. The mayor simply let the circus know that he, representing the city, wanted no part of this travesty.

Wow! My friend and I were encouraged! O’Brien told us to talk with the other city councilors to see if we could get a passing vote. We called/visited the other 10 Worcester City Councilors and made this progress:

* Former District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller was on board! YES from Barb!  Hooray! An owner of a few rescued pit bulls from the surrounding Main South ‘hood in which she lived, Barb was clued into animal suffering and pain. She said she would vote for the ban.

* Past and PRESENT City Councilor Mike Germain also wanted to vote YES! Germain really impressed me! He told me of all the animals he owns and loves and that when he and his girlfriend and her little kid went into a kind of circus tent downtown to see the animals that they were showing the public, he was so appalled by their cramped/inhumane cages/living quarters that he and his girlfriend and her kid turned right around and WALKED OUT! Thank you, Councilor Germain!

* City Councilor Konstantina Lukes was, I believe, on board.  I counted Konnie as a YES because she is a sensitive person, and a cool person and cares about animals and people and our city. She listened to the points I made to her when I visited her. She came outside (walked me to my car) and gave my big old retriever mix Bailey (Bailey, like my Husky dog Jett, always rode with me in my car) a pat. She told me she thought my dog was beautiful! He was! (He had nasal cancer at that point, my Bailey Boy did. He died within the year.)

So with O’Brien, Lukes,  Haller and Germain on board, I was optimistic! Hopeful!

Then the Worcester municipal election came and went, and a different city council – one less progressive/sensitive, I believe – is now “leading” our city. So, of course, City Manager Mike O’Brien has given his blessing to all the animal torture! Of course, the elephants, tired and sad looking, were paraded through our city streets! Last year Ringling Bros. circus even managed to ingratiate themselves with the great people at the Worcester Historical Museum and added their elephants to the city’s World Smiley Day celebration, defiling an otherwise sweet Worcester celebration.

Let’s get back on track, Worcester! Let’s educate ourselves! Let’s educate our city council and city leaders AND BAN THIS HORROR SHOW from our cool, cool city – a city filled with good, smart, down to earth people who know how to care for each other … and the wild animals of the planet.

Protesters will draw attention to Ringling Bros. Circus’ violent treatment of baby elephants!

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012


What: An “injured elephant” will lead PETA protesters on Wednesday as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus prepares for its opening show in Worcester. The protesters will display signs that read, “This Is Ringling Baby-Elephant Training,” alongside banners emblazoned with compelling photos taken inside Ringling’s training center. The photos expose how baby elephants used by Ringling are stretched out, slammed to the ground, gouged with steel-tipped bull hooks, and shocked with electric prods. These abusive sessions go on for several hours a day in order to force the baby elephants to learn to perform circus tricks out of fear of punishment. Actor Alec Baldwin recently narrated avideo  exposé that focuses on how circuses abuse elephants.

“Worcester residents would run screaming from the big top if they knew how baby elephants are violently forced to perform difficult, confusing, and sometimes painful tricks,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Since children love  animals, the last place that parents and grandparents should take them to is the circus.”

Late last year, Ringling Bros. paid the largest fine in circus history—$270,000—for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Where: DCU Center, at the intersection of Major Taylor Boulevard and Foster Street, Worcester

When: Wednesday, October 3, 12 noon

For more info,  call or email, David Perle at 202-483-7382, extension 2194, orDavidP@peta.org.

For more information, please visit PETA’s website RinglingBeatsAnimals.com.



Worcester comes out against Ringling!

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

By Deb Young

VegWorcester and Private Citizens for Pets in Peril , two Worcester based organizations met with many concerned people from around the region and members of the Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition last month to protest the Ringling Bros. Circus, outside the DCU Center.

We met with much support and very little criticism, only one man who walked by shouted at an older protester for her to “Get a life” and her quick response was “ I have one, Do you?” Click to continue »

Boycott Ringling Bros. Circus – the Cruelest Show on Earth!

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

By Rosalie Tirella

How pathetic. As if she had nothing better to report on, a Worcester TV 3 news tart (why are all the gals there look as if they are on the brink of anorexia?) had to bite the Ringling Bros. Circus p.r.-bait and do a feature on their clowns coming to our schools to teach our kids about exercise.

Pathetic girl reporter!

Ringling Bros. Circus will be putting on their horrific animal shows in Worcester in less than a week. More and more, people all over the world are telling circuses that use exotic/wild animals to FUCK OFF. Instead, they embrace Cirque de Soleil and other circuses that use only people acts to entertain crowds. Didn’t the TV 3 “news” girl see Ringling was using their clowns as a PR ploy? To suck our kids/families into attending their circus? To come up with something so innocuous so that peple think COOL! I want to go there! And then they forget about all the lions, tigers and elephants – wild animals which God created to roam thousands of miles in beautiful jungles or wild grasslands – exotic animals who are carted around in circus metal box cars – un-airconditioned in the summer, un-heated in the winter. And to do what? To be whipped and chained and degraded – all for the kiddies’ pleasure! To stand on red rubber balls, jump through hoops of fire, to wear tutus.

Wake up TV 3! Wake up moron TV 3 news editor Andy LaComb! This is not news! Like half the crap you run on your station, this is PR CRAP that distorts the truth! Ringling Bros. Circus is a mult-billion-dollar corporation that has pr professionals brainstorming day and night on just how to trick good people/families to forget the horrific lives that their tigers, lions, elephants and other wild animals lead (as slaves) in their travelling torture show.

Last year Ringling Bros. called Mayor Joe O’Brien. They wanted to do a press event where “their” elephants would be fed by our mayor in front of our City Hall. The mayor told me his office declined – he told me he wanted no part of Ringling’s business.

So of course, Ringling come up with other ways to use their animals for free publicity in Worcester. We heard from a friend that they are loaning their elpehants to our World Smiley Day event. How horrible! What a frown-inducing experience!

Let’s get these circuses out of our city for good! Let’s ban them! Go, Joe O’Brien, and other good people! Go!

Here are some stories on Ringling Bros. Circus and elephants and more. Read them and get educated!


Animal Abuse begins at Ringling

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is known for its long history of abusing animals. In 1929, John Ringling ordered the execution of a majestic bull elephant named Black Diamond after the elephant killed a woman who had been in the crowd as he was paraded through a Texas city. Twenty men took aim and pumped some 170 bullets into Black Diamond’s body, then chopped off his bullet-ridden head and mounted it for display in Houston, Texas. Click to continue »

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus comes to Worcester! Please boycott this traveling torture chamber!

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

editor’s note: For almost 10 years InCity Times has railed against the circus and all the businesses that exploit exotic animals – tigers, lions, elephants, bears.

Anything to make a buck – even if it means ripping these animals out of their natural environment, keeping them caged/enclosed all the time, keeping them in chains on hard cement and then forcing them (with electric prods, bull hooks, fire, whips) to do tricks, for people, most of whom would be repulsed by the “trainers” training techniques (animal cruelty!).

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus is the worst offender, but all the mini circuses that come through town, with their tigers etc are horrific. Often times these animals are rented out for a month or two and then when one gig is over, go on to be slaves for another circus – or in a recent case, Southwicks Zoo in Mendon. Southwicks rented Dondi the elephant and she died in the middle of summer (2001), during which time she had to perform her tricks in the summer heat. We have reported on this tragedy and (along with IFAW) want to see the vet/health report on Dondi’s Death. Southwicks has refused to make Dondi’s records available to the news media/publilc.

In Western Europe, Bolivia, even in good ol’ Revere, Mass., exotic animal acts are banned (meaning no circuses that use these animals are allowed in the town/city) because people do not want to have majestic animals like the lion and elephant degraded and tortured. Other circuses like the cool Cirque de Soleil, circuses which don’t used wild animals, are welcome in these places. And people love them! Click to continue »

Democrats out of touch?

Monday, June 7th, 2010

By Christopher Horton

There’s an old saying which fits the moment: “Words butter no parsnips.”

During the Special Senate Election this past January I went door to door asking my neighbors to vote for Martha Coakley – the same neighbors I had asked in December for their vote for Mike Capuano, and in October for their vote for our new Mayor, Joe O’Brien. I took my time and really listened to what they were saying, and by January the ones who hadn’t gotten sick of me were getting used to talking to me. By the morning of Jan. 19, I knew that Coakley would carry my precinct – she did, barely – but would lose the election, because so many Democrats and former Democrats were planning to vote for Scott Brown. Click to continue »