We’ve been in the fight for wild animals for 15 YEARS!
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has been abusing wild animals for almost a century and a half!
Now it’s all over for them!
AMERICA HAS CHANGED! It’s not 1871 – when Ringling started out – several years after the Civil War!, an era when Black men, women and even little children were sold in manacles (the babes had theirs on their little necks!)! Mere beasts of burden to American society – one shirt for a man per half year, children went naked – even in winter – women were raped by “masters,” disease ravaged families … unimaginable suffering. America faces her ORIGINAL SIN – slavery – every day!
Back then wild animals in Ringling were shackled, too! Slaves, too! The slavery continued…
Until this past Sat. nite when Ringling told its workers…NO MORE.
An AMERICAN IDEAL becoming A FACT OF LIFE every day!
We embrace it, in spite of president-elect Donald Trump and his henchmen!
Americans saw and UNDERSTOOD the plight of tigers, lions, elephants, chimps – all feeling and knowing “mystery achievements”! – in circuses, road side zoos, zoos … and our hearts were broken! We boycotted Ringling, didn’t take our kids to the circus but instead educated them.
Vegetarianism (low, low meat) is the hip way to eat! Tofu is mainstream! (Farm animals suffer, too!)
InCity Times has been at the vanguard of a new, more compassionate America for ALL animals … and Worcester County! FOR 15 YEARS!
So, I’m proud, proud, proud to write this:
FINALLY! RINGLING CIRCUS SHUTTING DOWN! THANK YOU, PETA, CONCERNED PARENTS AND KIDS AND CITY AND TOWN LEADERS throughout the land! On the Worcester front, Thank You, Steve Baer, Deirdre Healy, Deb Young and all THE TERRIFIC INCITY TIMES WRITERS (including moi😉) who’ve educated Worcester County and Worcester about the horrific lives wild animals live in circuses! Story, after story, after story! We’ve worked so hard!
I will always love our animal rights writers!!! For being so kind! For being so fearless! For being so selfless! For being so political! … And for being such kick-ass writers!
Rose and her rescued lil’ girl, Cece. (3 days ago/pic:R.T.)
It’s been an HONOR TO PUBLISH your circus, circus elephant and wild animals cover stories, columns and photos!
WE DID IT!
TEARS OF JOY!!!
WHAT A GREAT WAY TO BEGIN 2017!
All other animal circuses, roadside zoos, and wild animal exhibitors, including marine amusement parks like SeaWorld and the Miami Seaquarium, must take note: society has changed, eyes have been opened, people know now who these animals are, and we know it is wrong to capture and exploit them.
ICT contributor Steve Baer – one of the planet’s most passionate animal rights activists! We love you, Steve!!! – did a magnificent job on this elephants-in-circuses cover story.
We repost it today because Ringling is in Worcester this weekend and people need to know THE TRUTH ABOUT RINGLING and CIRCUS ANIMAL SUFFERING.
Most Worcesterites see it our way now – that elephants, big cats and other wild animals do not belong in railroad box cars (no air conditioning in summer, no heat in winter), should not be chained for hours and hours, should not be dressed in tutus, made to jump through burning hoops – physically and emotionally demeaned – at the mercy of bullhooks, whips …
LET US NOW WORK TO RETIRE BIG CATS FROM CIRCUSES!
LET’S MAKE SURE RETIRED RINGLING ELEPHANTS GO TO ACCREDITED ELEPHANT SANCTUARIES!
Here is actor Alec Baldwin teaching us all about the beautiful elephant!
– Rosalie Tirella
Elephants and Circuses
By Steve Baer
In June 2000, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Welfare Institute, The Fund for Animals, the Animal Protection Institute, and Tom Rider, a former employee of Ringling Brothers, filed a lawsuit against Ringling Brothers in Federal District court under the Endangered Species Act.
The lawsuit charges that the circus uses a stick with a sharpened metal hook on the end (called a “bullhook” or “ankus”) to repeatedly beat, pull, push, torment and threaten elephants. This type of aggression should be illegal, and is, but only because the recipients of the beatings were highly endangered Asian Elephants. Other animals in the circus, unfortunately, are not given the same level of protection. The intention of the lawsuit was to immediately stop Ringling’s inhumane mistreatment of animals in the circus.
It wasn’t, however, until October 2006, a year after a September 2005 court order by a Federal District judge who announced that he will incarcerate Ringling’s lawyers and executives if they do not turn over critical veterinary documents that Ringling disclosed their internal veterinary records. The records revealed Ringling Brothers severe abuse of the elephants.“[We] hope the spotlight continues to shine on the use of inhumane chains and bullhooks and Ringling’s cruel behind-the-scenes treatment of elephants,” said Nicole Paquette, G e n e r a l C o u n s e l a n d Director of L e g a l Affairs at the Animal Protection Institute.
“ T h e Court has run out of patience for R i n g l i n g Bro t h e r s ’ s t a l l i n g ploys,” added M i c h a e l Markarian, president of The Fund for A n i m a l s . ” This trial will come not a moment too soon, as R i n g l i n g ’s e l e p h a n t s continue to suffer every day from abusive discipline and prolonged chaining.”
Elephants are not domestic pets. They are wild animals. The same is true of lions, tigers, and bears. To be trained for the circus, an elephant had to have been chained down and had the spirit repeatedly beaten out of him or her by a team of “animal trainers.” The “trainers” use baseball bats, metal pipes, ax handles, metal prods, and sticks. The intention of the “trainers” is to show the elephant who is boss. The elephant, being an emotionally sensitive creature, as well as having a sensitive skin, is known to cry during such sessions. The torment, which doesn’t end for days, leaves behind a mere shell of the former animal. The elephant suffers emotional scars, and often physical scars too.
One “trainer” for a major circus was caught on under cover video saying “You’ve got to make them scream – You’ve got to make them cry!” in reference to how to make an elephant ready for performing in a circus.
According to Henry Ringling North in his book “The Circus Kings,” the big cats are “chained to their pedestals, and ropes are put around their necks to choke them down.” Writes Mr. Ringling North, “They work from fear.” Bears may have their noses broken while being trained to “teach” them to respond to commands, and their paws burned to force them to stand on their hind legs.
Once animals have learned to feel helplessness and have become spiritually drained, they are kept in a state of submission through various mechanisms.
Animals, such as bears, may be forced into tight fitting muzzles so they will remain subdued and discouraged from protecting themselves. The muzzles interfere with vision and respiration. Similarly, tight collars are employed to make animals more manageable. Others have their teeth removed. Chimpanzees and bears reportedly had their teeth knocked out by a hammer. Animals are declawed, defanged, and/or tranquilized to maintain control over them.
Elephants are forced to perform tricks by being hit with the ankus and electric prods. The ankus has a long handle with a sharp metal hook. It is jabbed into the most sensitive parts of an elephant’s body – under the trunk, behind the ears, around the eyes, inside their mouth, behind the knees, and in the genital region. Elephants are kept in fear, so they can be easily controlled by the circus.
Frequently an elephant will sustain an injury while being forced to perform an unnatural movement, such as balancing on two feet on a stool. Undercover investigators as recently as July 2006, have videotaped trainers beating elephants. Ringling’s own “Animal Behaviorist” in a January 2005 e-mail, recounted to Ringling’s General Manager that she saw an elephant named Lutzi “dripping blood all over the arena floor during the show from being hooked” after a handler “hook[ed] Lutzi under the trunk three times and behind the leg once in an attempt to line her up for the Tmount.” (A “T-mount” is a stunt where two elephants and at least one person stand on the back of a kneeling elephant.)
An elephant cannot always carry his or her weight on two legs, so a torn ligament is not uncommon. If the injuries are left untreated, it can be disastrous for the elephant.
Make no mistake about it, the whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, bull-hooks, and other enslavement tools used during circus acts and training sessions are reminders to you, and to the animals, that they are being forced to perform. Animals do not naturally ride bicycles, stand on their heads, or jump through rings of fire. In contrast to the exciting public relations hype associated with circuses, animals in the circus live a dismal life of domination, confinement, and violent training.
On The Road
Most circus animals usually live and travel in small, barren transport cages. Their cages are often so small that it is difficult for the animals to turn around. The animals are hauled around the country in poorly ventilated trailers and boxcars for up to 50 weeks a year in all kinds of extreme weather conditions. Animals defecate, urinate, eat, drink and sleep in the same small cramped cages. Access to the basic necessities of food, water, and veterinary care is often inadequate. Tigers and lions who naturally secure a territory of 75 to 2,000 square miles are often forced to live and travel in cages only 4 feet wide by 6 feet long by 5 feet tall.
Circus animals who are not confined to cages may often be chained or tethered almost the whole day. Most circuses routinely chain their elephants, while ungulates such as camels, zebras, and horses are tethered or stalled.
Under sworn testimony to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, witnesses and former circus employees have reported that elephants are normally chained by one front leg and one rear leg. Chains are usually, although not always, long enough to permit the elephant to take a step or two forward or backwards, and to lie down. Elephants are also kept chained in enclosed boxcars where they stand in their own excrement and urine for days unable to move around, smell fresh air, or find intellectual stimulation. Reportedly, circus elephants are confined in this way for 20 or more hours each day. The prolonged standing in wet, unsanitary conditions can lead to physical problems – such as arthritis and life threatening foot problems (foot rot, cracked nails, and infected cuticles) – and psychological problems. In the wild, elephants travel tens of miles each day. The inadequate exercise that elephants enslaved by the circus experience contributes to their decline in health.
In sworn testimony, Tom Rider, a former Ringling Brothers elephant barn-keeper stated, “After three years of working with elephants in the circus, I can tell you that they live in confinement and they are beaten all the time when they don’t perform properly.”
Other former Ringling Brothers employees have spoken out against behind-the-scenes animal cruelty. Former Ringling performer Kelly Tansy commented, “On my very first day with the circus, I witnessed animal cruelty. I saw an elephant being beaten in what appeared to be a disciplinary action. The beating was so severe that the elephant screamed. I have come to realize, through all the circuses that I have worked for, that mistreatment of animals is a standard part of training and is thought to be a ‘necessary’ part of exhibiting them. Additionally, Tansy reports, “I have seen chimps locked in small cages constantly when not performing; elephants chained continuously; and even animals being beaten during performances.”
The continual frustration of wild animals who are unable to engage in their instinctive behaviors can lead the animals to some serious psychological problems. Stereotypic actions such as hyper-aggression, apathy, selfmutilation, bar-biting, and pacing are indicative of psychological maladies. Frustrated by the lack of ability to move elephants repeatedly bob their heads and sway back and forth; some repeatedly rattle their chains with their trunks. Both of these actions are signs of neurotic behavior. Animals in the circus are often deprived of food and water to induce them to perform, as well as to prevent untimely defecation while they are in public view.
Even if it was possible to supply circus animals with all their material wants, something vital would still be lacking. What’s lacking is the joy that is associated with simply having the ability to evade being forced to do something.
Under natural conditions, in the wild, elephants have a life span of about 60 years. Elephants are normally migratory, traveling over 4,000 miles a year. Elephants have poor eyesight, but all of their other senses—hearing, smell, taste, and touch—are acute. Their trunk is frequently at work picking up scents of food and danger from the ground and air. Elephants can smell water at great distances and can hear certain sounds more than a mile away. Elephants in the wild dine on a wealth of plant parts—leaves, twigs, bark, shoots, fruit, flowers, roots, tubers, and bulbs.
Female elephants are among the few mammals, including humans, that live beyond their reproductive years. The typical cow will end her reproductive years at around 45 years old. During this post-reproductive period between 45 and 60 plus years, she assists in the care of the young of other elephants.
Elephants display complex, highly social behavior, living in tightly knit families headed by the oldest females. These elephants remain together for life. The family also defends the young, sick, old, and disabled from predators. Elephants are highly emotional individuals. They express joy, pleasure, and compassion, as well as sadness and grief. Wild elephants have been known to celebrate births of new elephants and to grieve and even shed tears over the death of a family member.
It is a shame and a travesty of morality that for the sake our children’s and our own momentary entertainment we encourage so much distress to come to pass on the families and the young of elephants.
What are we teaching children?
Circuses use animals to appeal to children and the child nature in adults. Observing animals at the circus, however, teaches children nothing about the natural behaviors of other species. They may learn about the size, shape and color of the animals, but behavior patterns, social interactions, intelligence, hunting instinct, maternal care giving, food gathering and movement patterns are absent. Instead, children are presented with images of either ferocious or stupid animals, whose seemingly only purpose is to amuse humans. The child unconsciously takes home from the circus the feeling that it is acceptable to exploit another being… animal or human.
Dr. Michael W. Fox, a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, and former professor of psychology reveals that “Parents have told [him] that they do not take their children to the circus where there are performing animals because they know intuitively, empathically, that it is wrong.”
Dr. Fox acknowledges that exposing children to “covert animal cruelty and overt domination, control, and exploitation teaches children that it is culturally acceptable, and the norm, to subjugate other sentient beings [humans included] and make them perform unnatural acts.” According to Dr. Fox, “The child’s nascent capacity to empathize with other living beings is certainly… crippled.” Dr. Fox asserts that “To expose and subject sensitive and impressionable children to the wild animal-abusing circus is child abuse.”
Protect yourself. A deadly and highly contagious human strain of tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis or TB) is infecting and killing captive elephants. TB is an airborne disease that spreads through tiny droplets in the air.
According to Dr. John Lewis of the International Zoo Veterinary Group, “[I]f tuberculosis is diagnosed in an elephant there are clear public health implications as the disease can be spread by close contact with infected animals [and] people.” Circuses routinely allow members of the public to feed, pet, and ride elephants.
TB is difficult to identify in elephants. Elephants are too large to be x-rayed, skin tests are unreliable, and trunk wash cultures only indicate whether the elephant has active TB. Circuses may also intentionally mislabel trunk wash specimens from infected animals using a TBnegative animal as the donor. No test can determine if an elephant is harboring a TB infection. Infected elephants may exhibit no symptoms of TB or may suffer from chronic weight loss, diminished appetite, chronic nasal discharge, coughing, and intolerance to exercise.
An extremely thin elephant, Lota, was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1996. A photo taken in May 2001 shows a child petting her at a circus. A few months later, this elephant was taken off the road and again given tuberculosis treatment
Most circuses have been cited by the USDA for failure to comply with TB testing requirements for elephants and handlers. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has determined that USDA veterinary medical officers and animal care inspectors who conduct elephant inspections may be at risk for TB infection.
Two police officers, one a fairly regular looking 5-feet 5-inch tall man and the other a very muscular 6-feet 4- inch tall man, were covering a detail at a circus near Worcester. They were asked by a citizen of the town “If one of the [three] elephants rampage what are you prepared to do.” The shorter police officer motions toward the larger police officer and replies, “I’ll hide behind him!” In truth there isn’t much more most people could do. Once a stressed out elephant rebels against a trainer’s physical dominance, the rampage is nearly impossible to stop without lethal force. In the event that an elephant runs amok, circus personnel cannot protect themselves, nor can they protect the general public.
An elephant who went berserk in Florida in 1992 with five children on her back was shot with more than 50 rounds of ammunition before an officer was located who happened to have armor-piercing bullets specially designed by the military to penetrate steel.Would you want your child on the back of an elephant that is being shot at?
In 1994, a stressed out circus elephant name Tyke could not take the abuse any longer. Her deadly rampage lasted an hour in downtown Honolulu. Department-issued semi-automatic pistols were useless. A zoo veterinarian’s lethal injections had no effect. The police finally located a high-powered counter-sniper rifle and fired three rounds into her heart. Tyke died after having been shot 87 times.
Where Are the Regulating Bodies?
The only federal law regulating the treatment of most wild animals in circuses is the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The AWA is inadequate and is inconsistently enforced. Circuses that do not comply with the Act are often given several opportunities to remedy violations. The USDA, itself determined that they “cannot ensure the humane care and treatment of animals as required by the AWA.”
According to Dr. Peggy Larson, a former USDA inspector and a veterinarian, “Circus animals are poorly inspected under the USDA Animal Welfare Act.” Dr. Larson stated that USDA veterinarians, who concern themselves primarily with housing and husbandry, do not know how to diagnose diseases in wild animals. And since neither a large animal practitioner nor a small animal veterinarian is equipped to handle elephants or big cats, circus animals are often not treated when they need care. Dr. Larson concluded, “USDA compliance is at best hopelessly ineffective.”
It can not be overstated that the vigilance and help of the public is essential when it comes to identifying and reporting circus animal abuse. If it were not for the help of concerned and compassionate people the truth about Ringling Brothers Circus cruelty and other circuses would still be well hidden and left unchecked.
Many uniformed people see elephants and other circus animals as being something of an American cultural tradition. Often, though, after becoming informed that no circus can possibly provide the right environment or proper care for such creatures, people find it unconscionable to allow an animal circus into town. Over 50 municipalities across the US, from Marin County CA to Weymouth MA prohibit circuses from operating in their community if they have elephants or other wild animals.
Ringling Brothers Circus- The Cruelest Show On Earth Industry Leader
Of all the animal circuses, Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus is the most diabolical and manipulative, not only to the animals, but also to the public.
Ringling Bros. public relations department has been working overtime to deceive the public into believing that animals imprisoned in the circus are “treated like family.” But no amount of misleading propaganda can sanitize the circus’s horrific record of animal neglect and their sabotage of the work of animal advocacy groups.
Since 1993, Ringling Brothers has been cited for more than one hundred deficiencies in animal care during inspections conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The circus has consistently opposed legislation and regulations to improve the conditions of captive wildlife. In California, for example, Ringling Bros. opposed legislation to limit the time an elephant may be confined in chains in a 24-hour period. Ringling Brothers has been investigated by the USDA as a result of allegations of cruelty to animals made by former circus workers, one of whom testified before Congress about his experiences with the circus. Since late 1998, three former Ringling Brothers employees have stated that the circus’s elephants, including the babies, receive regular beatings. The Ringling Bros. circus has been sued by two animal protection organizations for conducting illegal spying operations.To settle one case out of court, Ringling Bros. agreed to turn over custody of older animals.
Ringling Brothers Circus failed to protect a 4-year old Bengal tiger from being shot to death while he was in his cage; killed a 3-year old elephant through neglect and tried to hide the body; forcibly separated two baby elephants from their mothers by dragging the babies away with rope, resulting in rope burn wounds on the rear legs of the babies; overworked a 15-year old horse to the point of exhaustion and death; drowned a 4-year old elephant; tried to cover-up the death of a 2-year-old lion that dehydrated in a circus train that was traveling with no water break across California’s Mojave Desert on an overly hot day; euthanized an 8-month old elephant who fell from a pedestal breaking his legs that were bound together during training; caused a wild caught sea lion to die in her transport container, and failed to provide adequate ventilation for their tigers resulting in one tiger injuring his eye and breaking his tooth as he attempted to tear open a cage door and escape from the dangerously high temperatures of the trailer.
But the crimes that Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus commits extend beyond nonhuman animals. Ken Feld, CEO of Ringling Brothers Circus has been caught performing illegal wiretaps on the public, hiring ex-CIA people to illegally monitor and interfere in peoples’ lives, manipulating public sentiment against animal protection organizations, and using lobbyists and lawyers to defeat legislation which was designed to protect people from harm. Proof of this information is found in “Smith vs. Feld, civil action case number 98-357-A.
In that document Clair E. George, former Central Intelligence Agency deputy director for covert operations states that “Feld had set up a special unit, much like the Watergate ‘plumbers,’ to destroy anyone who threatened the image of the circus as wholesome fun-for-the-whole-family, conscientious custodian of animals. Feld’s main target was People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).”
PETA had circulated USDA reports that described horrible conditions at Ringling Brothers circus’s Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk City, Fla. At the Center USDA inspectors found two tightly chained baby elephants with lesions and scars on their legs, evidently caused by constant friction with their restraints. When USDA inspectors asked about the injuries, the elephant handlers told the inspectors that baby elephants were “routinely” chained to forcibly separate them “from their mothers.” The handlers angrily tried to block the inspectors from taking pictures. It was also discovered that about half of the elephants in Ringling Brothers Circus shows in Florida had a form of tuberculosis that was transmittable to human beings.
Not all circuses use animals. Good circuses dazzle their audiences solely with skilled human performers who are so talented at their art that they don’t need to enslave animals. Some animalfree circuses that have grown in popularity include Cirque du Soleil, Circus Smirkus, Circus Chimera, Circus Millennia, Cirque Eloize, Circus Oz, The New Pickle Family Circus, and Bindlestiff Family Circus. These animal-free circuses make it possible for families to have fun without causing animal suffering.
The number of cities and towns that are banning the use of animals in circuses is growing. People in many communities are realizing that wild animals don’t belong in the circus because of harm to the animals and the inherent risk to public safety.
You Can Help
Every individual has the power to limit and even stop the use of animals in circuses. Educate others. Most people would not support the circus if they saw animal trainers beating elephants mercilessly with razor sharp bullhooks behind the scenes or knew that tigers were kept in cages only 4’ x 5’ for the majority of their lives. Talk to friends, family, and neighbors about the cruel treatment animals endure under the big top. Encourage them to join you in taking a stand against animal circuses. You can also write letters to urge industry leaders and circus sponsors to avoid bringing animal circuses into town; ask your town to ban live animal acts; encourage legislators to support legislation to end exotic animal acts; request enforcement of animal welfare regulations; and report any perceived violations of state and local animal protection laws to the police and animal control.
If you are interested in helping to stop animal circuses from coming into Massachusetts please contact the Animal Protection Institute at 1-800- 348-7387, or go to www.api4animals.org or www.morebeautifulwild.com
Four Fast Facts about Animals in the Circus
1. Every major circus that uses animals has been cited for violating the minimal standards of care set forth in the United States Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
2. Animals born in circus “conservation” breeding programs have never been released into the wild.
3. From 1994 to 2005, at least 31 elephants died premature deaths in the circus.
4. Captive elephant and captive feline attacks on humans in the U.S. have resulted in hundreds of injuries, many resulting in death.
‘TIGER’ AND ‘ELEPHANT’ TO DEMAND RETIREMENT AT RINGLING’S OPENING NIGHT
Protesters to Call for Releasing All Wild Animals to Sanctuaries Now
What: TOMORROW, Friday, PETA supporters in tiger and elephant costumes will converge on the opening night of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Worcester.
The protesters will display a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp hook on one end, which the circus uses to beat elephants into submission — and call for the lions, tigers, elephants, and other animals forced to perform in Ringling’s shows to be immediately retired to accredited sanctuaries.
“Chains, cages, whips, and bullhooks are the tools of Ringling’s trade,” says PETA Foundation Captive Law Enforcement Counsel Rachel Mathews. “PETA is calling on everyone to stay away from Ringling Bros. until the circus takes elephants, tigers, lions, and all other exotic animals off the road and retires them to accredited sanctuaries.”
In their natural habitats, big cats roam vast territories, but in circuses, they are carted from arena to arena in cages so small that they can barely turn around. During performances, the threat of violence forces them to do physically challenging stunts, such as walking on their hind legs.
And while Ringling has pledged to phase out its elephant acts by May, a new report prepared by PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” — reveals that elephants at the circus’s “retirement” facility are not only still chained and abused with bullhooks but also at risk of contracting deadly tuberculosis.
Where: DCU Center, at the intersection of Foster Street and Major Taylor Boulevard, Worcester
When: TOMORROW, Friday, April 22, 6 p.m.
For more information, please visit PETA’s website RinglingBeatsAnimals.com.
In the face of growing public condemnation, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has finally conceded: It’s eliminating elephant acts this May instead of next year, bringing the lame and ailing animals some measure of relief from their days on end chained in stifling, reeking boxcars. But don’t pop the champagne corks just yet.
Despite Ringling’s spin on what comes next, the circus’s Florida breeding compound — where the elephants will be sent — has its own fundamental flaws. At the grandiosely named Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC), elephants are still chained on a daily basis, forced to breed (although no elephant born there will ever set foot in the wild), deprived of opportunities to interact and socialize normally, and continue to live in fear of being whacked with a bullhook or shocked with an electric prod.
According to the sworn testimony of the general manager of the CEC, some elephants at the facility are routinely chained on concrete floors for up to 23 hours a day.
They are typically chained by two legs—one hind leg and one foreleg—which prevents them from taking more than a step or two in any direction.
These keenly social animals, who need contact and interaction with other elephants, have little opportunity to engage in the activities that give their lives meaning. The general manager also testified that pregnant elephants at the CEC are chained by two or three legs for at least two weeks prior to their due dates.
During a court-ordered inspection of the CEC, an elephant-care specialist observed that elephants spent so much time chained that they had worn grooves into the concrete floor.
Chaining on hard surfaces makes elephants prone to arthritis, infection and psychological stress and can ultimately lead to premature death.
Chained elephants often sway back and forth like manic metronomes and repeatedly shift their weight from one foot to another in a desperate attempt to cope.
In another chilling revelation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that the CEC is awash in tuberculosis (TB), calling it “[t]he facility with the highest incidence of TB in their elephants,” and as a result, the CEC has been the subject of a series of government-mandated quarantines.
TB is highly transmissible from elephants to humans, even without direct contact. Just last month, two Ringling workers were barred from performing in Indianapolis after testing positive for possible TB. Seven employees at the Oregon Zoo contracted TB from three elephants in their care in 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CEC’s goal is to try to ensure a steady supply of captive elephants for circuses and now, more recently, zoos.
CEC veterinarian Dr. Dennis Schmitt admitted under oath that the CEC has no intention of introducing elephants into the wild. And Ringling recklessly breeds elephants years before they are mature. Wild Asian elephants don’t normally have their first calves until they are 18 to 20 years old. But Shirley, for example, gave birth to her first calf at the CEC when she was just 8 years old, followed by two more at ages 11 and 17. At least four baby elephants born at the CEC have died.
Elephants who have endured years of suffering while earning Ringling millions of dollars deserve better—including rehabilitation for both their physical and their psychological troubles.
This will not happen at the CEC.
It could happen at the two accredited elephant sanctuaries in the U.S., the Performing Animal Welfare Society in California and The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. That’s where these elephants belong.
PETA is calling on Indianapolis and federal officials to bar Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from forcing lame elephants Mable and Assan to perform this weekend. Recent footage shows the two elephants being forced to do tricks even though they appear to be in pain. PETA gave the footage to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Indianapolis Animal Care & Control and asked both to investigate and intervene.
PETA is especially concerned about Assan, who has been showing signs of severe arthritis for years, because the circus continues to use her in performances. Even Ringling’s own veterinarian recently admitted that Assan has circulatory issues caused by the circus’s transport conditions. And earlier this year, an elephant expert found that both animals had cracked toenails, which can be debilitating.
Ringling hauls elephants around the country for up to 50 weeks a year—confined to tiny boxcars, chained on hard surfaces, and forced to stand amid their own waste. These harsh conditions are known to cause arthritis and painful, chronic foot problems, both of which are often a death sentence for elephants.
No one should underestimate the risks associated with petting zoos and hands-on animal displays, as the tragic death on Monday of a little boy in Maine shows.
The 21-month-old boy became sick with hemolytic uremic syndrome after contracting E. coli at a petting zoo.
Yes, those ag displays, tiger cub pens, pony rides and petting zoos can land you in the hospital or worse.
Multiple bacterial, viral and parasitic agents have been linked to contact with animals, including E. coli and salmonella bacteria and swine flu, West Nile and rabies viruses.
The most common victims of these outbreaks are youngsters. Hundreds of children around the country have become seriously ill after contracting E. coli at petting zoos.
Many have suffered catastrophic kidney failure, including some who required transplants.
E. coli outbreaks are as common as cotton candy and vary only in the number of people infected. A toddler was hospitalized with life-threatening kidney failure—and received dialysis and multiple blood transfusions—after she contracted E. coli at a Wisconsin fair in 2010.
North Carolina health officials documented 43 confirmed cases of E. coli and suspected at least 100 more in people who had visited a petting zoo at the 2004 state fair.
Infection can spread through direct contact with animals or simply by touching the surroundings near an animal exhibit. Hand sanitizer does nothing to prevent the spread of E. coli by inhalation, and the bacteria has been linked to sippy cups, pacifiers and even thumb-sucking.
E. coli and swine flu aren’t the only pathogens lurking at fairs and zoos. In 2010, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had to assess some 70 children suspected of having had contact with a rabid calf at a petting zoo.
The children’s petting zoo at the Toledo Zoo was closed indefinitely in 2005 after three animals tested positive for campylobacter, an infectious type of bacteria that causes gastrointestinal illness. A year earlier, a bird and a horse in the Phoenix Zoo’s petting area died of West Nile disease, even though the horse had been vaccinated.
These outbreaks are neither rare nor isolated, and safety guidelines appear to be making little difference. In a case dating back to the 1990s, at least 50 people were stricken with a particularly virulent type of salmonella after visiting a petting area at the Denver Zoo. Eight of the victims had to be hospitalized. A 5-year-old Michigan boy was hospitalized after becoming ill with a salmonella infection after visiting a petting zoo on a school field trip in 1999.
Seven other children also became infected. That same year, as many as 650 people were believed to have been exposed to rabies after having had contact with a bear cub at an Iowa petting zoo. Several had to undergo rabies vaccinations. The bear cub later died of the disease.
Is it any wonder that animals who are crammed into sweltering transport trucks and holding pens and hauled around the country are in ill health? Hiring a veterinarian to accompany them would reduce profits, so sick or injured animals often go untreated.
It’s impossible to know how many animals suffer and die on the fair circuit because exhibitors’ convoys are constantly on the move, and for the most part no one is watching. With fewer than 100 federal inspectors covering the country, it’s simply not possible to monitor exhibitors with any regularity.
But you can still enjoy a local fair without putting your children’s health at risk or supporting cruelty to animals. Simply walk on by the petting zoo, pony rides and any other displays that use animals as props.
We’ve poured our hearts into the elephants-don’t-belong-in-circuses crusade. Progress!
NOW IT’S TIME TO SAVE THE BIG CATS WHO SUFFER in Ringling and other traveling shows. LIONS, TIGERS, PANTHERS, COUGARS … all of these MAGNIFICENT AND MAJESTIC wild cats have captivated humankind’s imagination for millennia. Because they are so big, so beautiful, so exotic. All the more reason to let them BE FREE IN THE WILD, WHERE THEY BELONG. – Rosalie Tirella
Here are six reasons why big cats do NOT belong in circuses:
1. In circuses, big cats are often forced to live intiny, cramped cages.
Circuses routinely cart animals from town to town in barren cages that deprive lions and tigers of opportunities to fulfill their basic needs to exercise, roam, socialize, forage, and play. Many big cats are forced to eat, drink, sleep, defecate, and urinate in the same place. The only relief that many are given from this nearly perpetual confinement is during their brief performances, when they are subjected to whippings and roaring crowds. As a result of captivity, many big cats are overweight, while others suffer psychologically. The stressful, unnatural environment can cause some to pace back and forth or even mutilate themselves.
2. Their maternal bond is broken.
In the wild, young tigers grow up with their mothers, but animals used in circuses are often separated long before they would naturally part, causing emotional distress for both mothers and cubs.
3. Their basic social and physiological needs are denied.
Tigers are naturally semi-nocturnal and love the water. In circuses, they’re carted around and forced to perform in the daytime and denied access to any kind of watering hole.
Adult tigers are solitary animals, but circuses ignore this fact and make them live in unnatural and often incompatible groups, sometimes resulting in fights and injuries.
Feld Entertainment, the private company that owns Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, recently announced that it plans to phase out its use of elephants in performances by 2018. But why does this billion-dollar behemoth need three years to do what it should do immediately?
A company spokesperson acknowledged that the decision was reached because the public has made it clear that it no longer supports forcing elephants to perform. More and more people have come to learn that in circuses, baby elephants are taken from their mothers, beaten into submission with bullhooks and shackled for the rest of their lives. A bullhook is a heavy baton with a sharp metal tip and hook on the end used to keep captive elephants submissive and afraid. The company’s CEO, Kenneth Feld, admitted that the bullhook bans being passed or considered in cities throughout the country contributed to the decision.
So why force elephants to live in fear of being hit with these weapons and to spend days on end confined to fetid boxcars for another three years? If the company is serious and sincere about evolving, then it should make this change now.
Transported from venue to venue almost year-round, elephants used by circuses spend most of their lives shackled and confined. These animals, who are genetically designed to walk many miles every day, must eat, drink, sleep, defecate and urinate in a world measured in inches. This prolonged chaining is linked to deadly foot disorders, arthritis and “stereotypic” (neurotic) behavior, such as constant swaying.
At least 11 elephants with Ringling have tested positive for tuberculosis (TB)—and that’s no laughing matter. TB can be deadly and is highly transmissible from elephants to humans, even without direct contact.
According to Kenneth Vail, the Animal Welfare Act compliance officer for Feld Entertainment, TB is “probably going to be the downfall of Feld’s elephants.”
Many elephants did not live long enough to benefit from Ringling’s change of heart. It’s too late for an 8-month-old baby elephant named Riccardo, who was destroyed after he fractured his hind legs when he fell from a pedestal during a training session; 4-year-old Benjamin, who drowned while being pursued by a handler with a bullhook; and 3-year-old Kenny (Kenneth Feld’s namesake), who died shortly after he was forced to go on stage despite the fact that he was bleeding from his rectum and having difficulty standing.
While Ringling’s decision will provide some relief to elephants forced to perform, let’s not forget that at its Florida compound, elephants are shackled and handled with bullhooks, so a serene retirement does not await them. They are also used as breeding machines, even though captive elephants are dying at a faster rate than they are breeding. Ringling has failed to make any meaningful contribution to the protection of wild Asian elephant habitat and has been unabashedly uninterested in furthering conservation of wild elephant populations. When asked why it doesn’t redirect its efforts from captive breeding to wild habitat conservation, Ringling’s national media representative responded, “Habitat is another thing. We’re not a conservation organization.”
Instead of breeding more elephants who will spend their lives in chains and in forced breeding regimens, Feld Entertainment could transform its Florida facility into a genuine sanctuary—modeled after the successful examples of California’s PAWS and Tennessee’s The Elephant Sanctuary—where elephants could form social groups of their own choosing, swim in ponds and roam over large areas to forage and explore.
Feld Entertainment is on the cusp of a new business model. The company just needs to go further—and faster.
Delcianna Winders is deputy general counsel for the PETA Foundation. Please check our ICT circus FB page, run by Deb Young, on this website (click on text by baby elephant) for updates on elephants and other wild animals in traveling shows and roadside zoos. Thank you!
From PETA.ORG . PLEASE BOYCOTT THESE CIRCUSES UNTIL THEY STOP USING WILD ANIMALS!
A few of them come to Worcester! OUR CITY MUST SHOUT: STOP THE CRUELTY TO ELEPHANTS!!!
And … a reminder!
Local gal Deb Young has created an informative and lively FB page on the wild animals forced to perform in traveling shows. Want to learn ALL ABOUT elephants, tigers, lions, bears, monkeys and the work being done in Massachusetts AND AROUND THE WORLD to put an end to their suffering in circuses, roadside zoos, traveling shows? Then CLICK ON CIRCUS FB PAGE on THIS WEBSITE! (near the photo of the poor baby elephant!)
We’ve gained momentum with Ringling’s decision!!! Let’s PUSH ON!!!!! – R. Tirella
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has conceded: The public no longer supports dragging elephants around the country and forcing them to perform tricks under the constant threat of being hit with a bullhook, so it’s phasing out its elephant acts. These other circuses should accept that the days of elephant exploitation are long over and allow the elephants used in their shows to be retired and relocated to sanctuaries:
1.) UniverSoul Circus
Atlanta law-enforcement officials recently charged both a UniverSoul Circus representative and Larry Carden, the elephant exhibitor performing with the circus, with cruelty to animals after a whistleblower reported to PETA that a handler with the circus forced an apparently fearful elephant to leave the stage by inserting a bullhook—a sharp metal weapon that resembles a fireplace poker—into the animal’s sensitive mouth.
2.) Carson & Barnes
The notorious Carson & Barnes Circus has a long history of abusing elephants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently cited the circus for failing to provide an elephant named Nina with adequate veterinary care. Nina—whom a Carson & Barnes worker was caught beating on video while touring with another circus in 2011—has lost 500 pounds in the last several months alone.
Nina, an Elephant with the Carson and Barnes Circus.
3.) Kelly Miller Circus
Kelly Miller Circus is using a lonely, sad elephant named Anna Louise. Elephants are highly social animals who suffer when denied the company of other elephants.
4.) Shrine Circuses
Shrine Circuses rent their elephant acts from a variety of exhibitors— all of which have deplorable records of animal care.
5.) Cole Brothers Circus
The Cole Bros. Circus paid a civil penalty of $15,000 to settle more than ten Animal Welfare Act violations. In 2011, Cole Bros. and its president pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act by illegally selling two Asian elephants. The circus was ordered to pay more than $150,000 in fines.
Thank you to all the great moms, kids, dads, school teachers and regular folks who saw the insane heartlessness and MADE RIGHTEOUS NOISE, educated loved ones, strangers and politicians with passion AND smarts, stayed true and tenacious to the cause! Elephants do not belong in travelling shows! They belong in their true home – the wild … nature in India and Africa.
I’d like to think InCity Times, which has been on this issue for almost 14 YEARS!!!!, played a teeny part in the turnaround. The ELEPHANTS NEED TO BE FREE campaign! I am so proud of us for helping create positive change in Worcester … and the world!
Thanks to STEVE BAER, DEIRDRE HEALY and DEB YOUNG – InCity Times writers and animal lovers who wrote so beautifully and intelligently about elephants in our paper and on this website! Check out our circus FB page on this website. Deb’s posted some stuff for ya!
I would like to see this MONUMENTAL VICTORY FOR ELEPHANTS enacted now! Happen today! Right this very second! Still, I’m VERY HAPPY! Very happy indeed!
We know that extreme abuse of these majestic animals occurs every single day, so if Ringling is telling the truth about ending this horror, then it’s a day to pop the champagne corks and rejoice.
However, many of the elephants with Ringling are painfully arthritic or have tuberculosis, so their retirement day needs to come now.
Three years is too long for a mother elephant separated from her calf, too long for a baby elephant beaten with bullhooks (a sharp weapon resembling a fireplace poker that Ringling handlers use routinely), and too long for an animal who would roam up to 30 miles a day in the wild but who is instead kept in shackles.
If Ringling is serious about this decision, then it needs to end its use of elephants NOW.