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

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!

It is too bad that the pin-head reporters on Worcester’s very on TV 3 – the ones who look like like female and male prostitutes/tarts – are so stupid that they would “report” on Ringlings’ circus elephants love for white bread. Two news segments on TV 3 about this! Elephants and their love for white bread from a Worcester bakery! What an utter falsehood! What a stupid attempt to get good p.r./curry favor with the city by Ringling circus! Yet TV 3’s “reporters” (along with Steve dopearama Foksett of the Telegram and Gazette) bought the b.s. How the TV 3 morons – Keven Craig and Katlyn Tivnan – ever became journalists, I’ll never know. But they are talentless, so they shouldn’t go far – another third-tier city at best. How much damage can they do in … Springfield?

But in the meantime, read on and learn the truth about Ringling Bros., elephants and what you can do to help.

– Rosalie Tirella

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.

Ringling’s cruel treatment of animals continues today.

Elephants in Ringling’s possession are chained inside filthy, poorly ventilated boxcars for an average of more than 26 straight hours—and often 60 to 70 hours at a time—when the circus travels. Even former Ringling employees have reported that elephants are routinely abused and violently beaten with bullhooks (an elephant-training tool that resembles a fireplace poker), in order to force them to perform tricks. Read more about the Ringling whistleblower who told PETA about the shocking death of a lion and the abuse of elephants in Ringling’s care.

Since 2000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Ringling numerous times for serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), such as the following:

Improper handling of dangerous animals

Failure to provide adequate veterinary care to animals, including an elephant with a large swelling on her leg, a camel with bloody wounds, and a camel injured on train tracks

Causing trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm, and unnecessary discomfort to two elephants who sustained injuries when they ran amok during a performance

Endangering tigers who were nearly baked alive in a boxcar because of poor maintenance of their enclosures.

Failure to test elephants for tuberculosis.

Unsanitary feeding practices.

In fact, the USDA currently has open multiple investigations of potential violations of the AWA by Ringling.

At least 26 elephants, including four babies, have died since 1992, including an 8-month-old baby elephant named Riccardo who was destroyed after he fractured his hind legs when he fell from a circus pedestal. Elephants are not the only animals with Ringling to suffer tragic deaths. In 2004, a 2-year-old lion died of apparent heatstroke while the circus train crossed the Mojave Desert.

Ringling Bros. is currently on trial for allegedly abusing elephants with bullhooks and electric prods and for subjecting them to prolonged chaining.

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Meet the elephants

Animals used in circuses, like Ringling Bros., live a dismal life in which they are dominated, confined, and violently trained. Workers routinely beat, shock, and whip them until they perform ridiculous tricks that make no sense to them.

Most elephants used by circuses were captured in the wild. Once removed from their families and natural habitat, their lives consist of little more than chains and intimidation. Some baby elephants are born on breeding farms, where they are torn from their mothers, tied with ropes, and kept in isolation until they learn to fear their trainers. Throughout their lifetime, all they will ever know is severe loneliness and beatings with sharp bullhooks.

During a 2009 investigation into Ringling, PETA documented 11 elephants who range in age from 12 years old to at least 52. These sensitive and intelligent animals have spent an average of 30 years with Ringling, and four elephants have each been in Ringling’s possession for 41 long years of suffering.

Meet just a few of Ringling’s unwilling performers:

Tonka was born in captivity and has been with Ringling since about 1989. PETA captured on video an incident in which the 25-year-old elephant was hooked behind the ear, causing her to scream and bleed, while the elephants were being walked from the arena to the train in Austin, Texas, but her brother, Kenny, suffered a worse fate. In 1998, 3-year-old Kenny, who had been bleeding from his rectum and was clearly very sick, died alone in a stall after being forced to perform despite being sick. As a result, Ringling was charged with violations of the Animal Welfare Act and paid $20,000 to settle out of court.Luna is considered to be especially dangerous. Like Tonka, she and her siblings have also been horribly abused by the circus industry.

Luna’s brother Ned, an emaciated Asian elephant, was confiscated from circus trainer Lance Ramos-Kollmann in 2008 and placed with The Elephant Sanctuary, where he died May 15, 2009. Her brother Benjamin drowned on July 26, 1999, when he was only 4 years old, as he tried to move away from a trainer who was poking him with a bullhook while he was swimming in a pond.

Angelica, 12, has been held captive by Ringling since the day she was born. In 1999, a USDA report stated that there were large lesions on Angelica’s leg, and a Ringling employee said the scars were caused by rope burns, resulting from the violent and terrifying separation process from her mother. In January 2006, the USDA cited Ringling for causing trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm, and unnecessary discomfort to Angelica and another elephant who suffered injuries when they ran amok while performing in Puerto Rico.

Assan, Banana, and Baby were born in Asia, and all three have been with Ringling since about 1968. A humane officer discovered lacerations consistent with bullhook wounds on Assan and Baby during an inspection in California. A former Ringling employee reported that the elderly Banana, who suffers from arthritis, was not being given medication to alleviate the pain.

Help the elephants who are held captive and beaten by Ringling Bros. Take action now!

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Undercover investigation reveals Ringling abuse

In 2009, PETA went undercover at “the saddest show on Earth”—Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus—and captured Ringling workers on video as they beat and whipped elephants dozens of times in venues across the country.

The 11 elephants used in the show—most of whom were captured in the wilds of Asia as early as 1957 and some of whom have spent more than 40 years with the circus—suffer month after month at the hands of Ringling and its crew. PETA documented workers as they struck elephants and tigers on the head, face, ears, trunk, legs, and other parts of their bodies with bullhooks and other abusive handling tools. The unit’s animal superintendant and head elephant trainer were among those who used bullhooks—sharp, fireplace pokerlike devices—to hook and yank elephants by their sensitive skin, as can be seen in PETA’s undercover video.

The abuse extended from Birmingham, Alabama, to Providence, Rhode Island. Ringling’s venues changed, but the beatings did not.

One of the animals Ringing hauls across the country and forces to perform is Tonka, a 25-year-old elephant whom Ringling has used since 1989. From a very young age, she has known only beatings with bullhooks and whips and confinement to cramped spaces, with shackles around her legs.

During an investigation, Tonka was repeatedly captured on video engaging in “stereotypic” behaviors, recognized as a sign of severe psychological distress—including swaying from side to side while simultaneously bobbing her head and swinging her right foot. Despite her condition, Tonka was forced to perform for crowds night after night. PETA’s undercover footage of this suffering is only the latest chapter in Ringling’s long history of abusing animals. PETA has obtained other videos of Ringling workers as they beat animals, and former Ringling employees have even spoken out against the circus’s cruel practices. A verdict is expected as early as summer 2009 in a lawsuit filed against Ringling, alleging that the circus’s use of steel-barbed bullhooks, electric prods, and shackles on the elephants it forces to perform violates federal law.

PETA has filed a formal complaint with the USDA, but officials also need to hear from you. Write to Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack and demand that the agency seize the elephants whom Ringling hauls around the country in filthy boxcars and forces to perform under the constant threat of punishment. If officials act now, Tonka and her peers might be spared future beatings.

These elephants should be sent to a sanctuary, where they would be able to roam across hundreds of acres of natural habitat, play in ponds, and socialize with their longtime friends—all of which elephants are deprived of in circuses.

And please remember, if you attend a Ringling circus or any circuses that use animals, you are supporting this suffering. Please, stay away from circuses that use animals.

For more information, go to PETA.orgUndercover investigation reveals Ringling abuse

In 2009, PETA went undercover at “the saddest show on Earth”—Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus—and captured Ringling workers on video as they beat and whipped elephants dozens of times in venues across the country.

The 11 elephants used in the show—most of whom were captured in the wilds of Asia as early as 1957 and some of whom have spent more than 40 years with the circus—suffer month after month at the hands of Ringling and its crew. PETA documented workers as they struck elephants and tigers on the head, face, ears, trunk, legs, and other parts of their bodies with bullhooks and other abusive handling tools. The unit’s animal superintendant and head elephant trainer were among those who used bullhooks—sharp, fireplace pokerlike devices—to hook and yank elephants by their sensitive skin, as can be seen in our undercover video.

The abuse extended from Birmingham, Alabama, to Providence, Rhode Island?Ringling’s venues changed, but the beatings did not.

One of the animals Ringing hauls across the country and forces to perform is Tonka, a 25-year-old elephant whom Ringling has used since 1989. From a very young age, she has known only beatings with bullhooks and whips and confinement to cramped spaces, with shackles around her legs.

During our investigation, Tonka was repeatedly captured on video engaging in “stereotypic” behaviors, recognized as a sign of severe psychological distress—including swaying from side to side while simultaneously bobbing her head and swinging her right foot. Despite her condition, Tonka was forced to perform for crowds night after night.

PETA’s undercover footage of this suffering is only the latest chapter in Ringling’s long history of abusing animals. PETA has obtained other videos of Ringling workers as they beat animals, and former Ringling employees have even spoken out against the circus’s cruel practices. A verdict is expected as early as summer 2009 in a lawsuit filed against Ringling, alleging that the circus’s use of steel-barbed bullhooks, electric prods, and shackles on the elephants it forces to perform violates federal law.

PETA has filed a formal complaint with the USDA, but officials also need to hear from you. Write to Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack and demand that the agency seize the elephants whom Ringling hauls around the country in filthy boxcars and forces to perform under the constant threat of punishment. If officials act now, Tonka and her peers might be spared future beatings. These elephants should be sent to a sanctuary, where they would be able to roam across hundreds of acres of natural habitat, play in ponds, and socialize with their longtime friends—all of which elephants are deprived of in circuses.

And please remember, if you attend a Ringling circus?or any circuses that use animals?you are supporting this suffering. Please, stay away from circuses that use animals.

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Olivia Munn Combats Circus Cruelty

From hosting G4’s Attack of the Show! to appearing in summer blockbusters Date Night and Iron Man 2, Olivia Munn is entertaining audiences all over the globe. Olivia also has a soft spot for animals and was shocked to learn that elephants used in circuses are torn from their mothers at birth and bound and electro-shocked as babies in order to break their spirits. They spend the rest of their lives performing silly, meaningless tricks out of constant fear of physical punishment, including beatings with bullhooks—sharp, metal-tipped implements that resemble fireplace pokers.

Since elephants are not naturally inclined to balance on balls, stand on their heads, or perform tricks, trainers use whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, bullhooks, and other painful tools to force them to perform these physically uncomfortable tasks. Elephants used by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus are beaten, hit, poked, prodded, and jabbed with sharp hooks, sometimes until bloody. When they are not performing, elephants—who walk up to 30 miles a day in their natural environment—spend their time in chains as the circus travels from city to city.

Olivia explains, “When you look at something like the circus and everyone’s laughing and there’s color and there’s music and everything seems so great, but when you go right behind that door and they’re in these crates all day long and then they’re getting shocked and beat just so they can get up and dance around on a ball … it was just so sickening.”

Please join Olivia in helping to stop cruelty under the big top and spread the word about this important issue to everyone you know!

Ask the USDA to remove suffering, lame elephants from Ringling!

A recent inspection of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus by an independent exotic-animal veterinarian in Sacramento revealed that four elephants — Karen, Nicole, Bonnie and Minyak — are suffering from foot ailments, including lameness and stiffness consistent with arthritis, as a result of long-term neglect of foot care. Foot-related conditions and arthritis are the leading cause of euthanasia in captive elephants.

Despite an initial city order limiting the activities of these elephants, Ringling continues to force the animals to perform grueling and physically strenuous tricks, such as standing on their hind legs. These tricks, which are performed under the constant threat of punishment, only aggravate the animals’ conditions. The veterinarian’s inspection confirms previous testimony from a federal trial that Karen and Nicole have been suffering from lameness and serious foot problems for many years.

Please write to Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack and demand that the U.S. Department of Agriculture confiscate the ailing elephants from Ringling.

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