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?” Not bad for the several hours we were there to only run into one ignorant person.
Thumbs up and waves, Honks of horns, and “Good Job” from cars driving by.
Even the worker handing out programs for Ringling kept a good sense of humor about the whole thing, asking every so often if we would switch places and signs so he could read something different.
After we were done I actually approached him and said, “ I know we are on opposite sides here, but thanks for maintaining a good attitude about this” to which he responded “ Hey, People have to do what they believe in and besides you and company have been nothing but respectful, I have seen many protesters shout and try to assault me, so fair is fair. You treated me respectfully so I will do the same.”
But here are the facts as to why we were there. testimony from former circus workers who have come forward about the abuse, and USDA documents.
Since 1993 Ringling Bros. has been cited more then one hundred times & Ringling has failed to meet minimal federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibition as established by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Since 2000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Ringling numerous times for serious AWA noncompliance’s, including the following: improper handling of dangerous animals; failure to provide adequate veterinary care to animals including an elephant with a stiff leg, an elephant with a large swelling on her leg, elephants with abrasions, 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; and unsanitary feeding practices. The USDA has at least three open investigations of potential violations of the AWA by Ringling.
Example. In 2004, a 2 year old lion named Clyde died from what is believed to be dehydration and heatstroke while being transported through the Mohave Desert. A former handler alleged that Ringling managers would not stop the train to provide water because they were behind schedule.
Ringling has a long history of animal abuse. Ringling has been sued for alleged mistreatment, including beating its Asian elephants with bull hooks, constant chaining, and forcible separation of babies from their mothers. Evidence includes undercover video,
To see some of this video footage go to: http://www.ringlingbeatsanimals.com/
Circuses that exploit animals often make lofty claims about their “educational” value and their contributions to “conservation.”
But the real message that these circuses send to children is that it’s acceptable to abuse animals for amusement and profit. And the
conservation claims made by many circuses are merely veiled attempts to justify the exploitation of animals for commercial gain.
Endangered animals born in circus “conservation” programs have never been and will never be released into the wild – they are doomed,
instead, to life in captivity. In addition, these breeding programs have very low success rates.
Helen Rayshick, Executive Director of MARC says, “Ringling has a long track record of animal abuse and neglect, and if good people knew the truth, they wouldn’t allow their children anywhere near this circus. Circuses are not “good clean fun” for anyone.
Using animals in circuses is an unnecessary and inhumane practice that’s harmful to both the animals and the public. Unlike the human performers who choose to work in circuses, exotic animals are forced to take part in the show. They are involuntary actors in a degrading, painful, unnatural spectacle. Standard circus industry training tools used on animals include bull hooks, whips, clubs, and electric prods. Their “training” as babies is especially brutal.
After training, they spend virtually their whole lives in chains and boxcars when they aren’t performing. Animals used in circuses have been injured and killed, and have injured and killed humans. Local charities often use these circuses to generate funds but there are plenty of non-animal circuses to choose from at all levels of cost.
There are plenty of non-animal circuses to support that are actually more fun that animal circuses, like Circus Smirkus.