Written by Michelle Kretzer
The record penalty
paid by Ringling Bros. and Barnum &
for violations of federal animal welfare laws has so far made no difference for
the lame and suffering elephants the circus forces to travel and perform for
months at a time. So PETA has sent an urgent appeal to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) asking that the agency order a comprehensive, independent
evaluation of the elephants and prohibit Ringling from taking elephants in
distress on the road.
Accompanied by PETA's captive
wildlife specialist, two veterinarians with decades of elephant experience
attended multiple Ringing shows and expressed serious concerns about the health
and well-being of eight elephants. One elephant was observed with an abscessed
toenail (foot problems are the number one reason why elephants in the U.S. are
euthanized), and another had diarrhea.
All eight displayed
severely abnormal behaviors and have extensive scarring from being struck with bullhooks.
Fifty-four-year-old elephants Aussan and Sarah
have shown a dramatic decline in their physical condition during the past few
The experts also saw
a zebra escape from an enclosure during a show and a tiger whose tail was caught in a cage
cannot wait while the USDA pats itself on the back for penalizing Ringling.
Please click here
to urge the USDA to take immediate enforcement action to get Aussan, Sarah, and
all the other elephants suffering for Ringling off the road for good.
Written by PETA
of chronic neglect of elephants held by Florida-based exhibitor Jorge Barreda, who
uses elephants for rides and rents them out to circuses like UniverSoul, PETA is calling
on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to confiscate the elephants and
relocate them to a sanctuary so that
they can receive the treatment that they urgently need. USDA inspection reports
dating back to April indicate that Barreda has repeatedly failed to provide
vital care for the elephants' feet, which can lead to serious, and even fatal, abscesses,
infections, osteomyelitis, and other problems.
Foot problems are
extremely serious—they are the number one cause of premature death in captive elephants in the U.S.,
who are forced to stand for long hours on hard surfaces instead of walking for
up to 30 miles a day as they would in the wild. Despite the necessity of foot
and other animal exhibitors often neglect this critical aspect of elephants'
Please avoid all circuses
that use elephants and other animals and urge your family and friends to do the
same. Click here
for a list of animal-free circuses.
Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, must now pay the largest settlement of its kind in U.S. history―$270,000―for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) dating back to 2007.
PETA has been after the USDA all this time to take action against Ringling for abusing the animals in its care. In recent meetings, we presented unequivocal evidence of animal abuse, including beatings, the death of a lion, lame elephants forced to perform despite chronic pain, and a baby elephant who died during a training routine. We had recently filed a new formal request for action against Ringling, and our attorneys had met with the USDA's general counsel and urged her to begin enforcement proceedings.
PETA presented testimonial and photographic evidence that baby elephants at Ringling's training compound are torn away from their mothers and subjected to violent training sessions so that they will learn how to perform tricks, as well as video footage from a PETA investigation showing how elephants used by Ringling are whipped, beaten, and yanked by heavy, sharp steel-tipped bullhooks behind the scenes, prior to performing.
In addition to receiving the largest civil penalty ever assessed against an exhibitor under the AWA, Ringling must now provide all employees who handle animals with training and hire a staff member dedicated to AWA compliance. We will see how that goes.
This is a great start, but no one should forget that elephants and other animals pay the price every time anyone buys a ticket to the circus. Ask all the parents you know not to take their children to this cruel show, and explain why or show them this blog.
Please click here to thank the USDA for taking action against Ringling for its abuse of animals, and urge officials to go a step further and confiscate the circus' sick and ailing elephants.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
would the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order up animals for
experiments from a company that has repeatedly violated federal animal welfare laws?
I'm not sure.
The CDC has had contracts with the now notorious Pennsylvania
ferret-breeding factory farm Triple
F Farms, Inc., totaling more than $1.5 million since 2006. But PETA's recent undercover
investigation at Triple F found that its owners, supervisors, and
employees left ferrets with bleeding rectal prolapses, gaping wounds, herniated
organs, painful mammary gland infections, and ruptured, bleeding eyes to suffer
and die without veterinary care. Workers threw live animals into an incinerator,
and employees with no veterinary training cut organs and anal sacs from ferrets
who were not given adequate pain relief. Our evidence prompted the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) to inspect Triple F repeatedly, and federal
officials corroborated our
findings and have opened an investigation, citing Triple F for a dozen
violations of federal laws.
PETA immediately sent CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden the results of our investigation and the USDA's first damning inspection report. But the CDC, which abuses ferrets for respiratory experiments, signed another contract with Triple F, worth $16,750, just weeks later. PETA has filed an urgent complaint with the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services because the CDC's latest contract may violate a federal law requiring the government to award business contracts only to reputable and ethical companies. Click here to ask the CDC to determine whether Triple F should be made ineligible from receiving taxpayers' money because of its horrendous record of abuse and noncompliance. Written by Michelle Sherrow
Update: Because it is illegal in Ohio to use a bullhook
on an elephant, PETA is offering a $5,000 reward to any arena employee who
documents use of the bullhook if it leads to a citation against Ringling Bros. circus.
Originally posted October 4, 2011
star, animal defender, and Ohio native Chrissie Hynde has sent a letter to Cleveland officials to remind them
that there is a ban in the state against using prods
like bullhooks and "hot
shots" on animals in circuses and asked for confirmation
that humane authorities would make sure Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
doesn't use them on elephants when the circus comes
to town next month. In
response the letter, the mayor wrote that the city shares Chrissie's concerns
and that "[a]n inspection will be conducted and the event monitored to
ensure that the use of bullhooks and other devices that cause harm to circus
animals are not used during the Cleveland event."
be watching to make sure that the mayor keeps his word, but we won't be
watching the circus, and neither should you.
PETA is asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to seize animals from Karl Mitchell, whose repeated, flagrant violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) have left us reeling.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rarely yanks exhibitor's licenses, but Mitchell's license was revoked more than 10 years ago and he was fined $27,500 for violations, including filthy living conditions, failing to provide animals with veterinary care, failing to provide wholesome and palatable food and water or adequate space and shelter, and withholding water as a training technique.
On top of his lengthy list of noncompliances, Mitchell also shot and killed a tiger who escaped his control during transport in 2002. He continues to flout the law, and last year, the USDA issued a third cease-and-desist order against him and assessed fines of almost $70,000 for continuing to exhibit exotic animals without a license.
It seems clear that Mitchell is knowingly violating the Captive Wildlife Safety Act (also known as the "Lacey Act"), which gives the FWS grounds to confiscate his animal "inventory." We're also calling on the USDA to file criminal charges against Mitchell, given his repeated violations of the AWA despite multiple cease-and-desist orders.
Please e-mail the FWS to ask officials to seize Mitchell's animals and e-mail the USDA to demand an investigation.
PETA has obtained copies of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection reports that describe repeated citations against the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for failing to adhere to the bare minimum regulations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
According to the most recent USDA inspection report, Ringling has failed to provide adequate veterinary care to an elephant named Sarah who is apparently suffering from an infection: According to Ringling's medical records, Sarah has a history of pus oozing from her vulva and now also has a significantly elevated white blood cell count. But handlers have been ignoring orders from the circus' senior veterinarian to rinse the infected area twice a day, and there was no documentation that this ailing elephant's blood work was even reviewed. Indeed, Ringling did not express concern about Sarah's high white blood count until the USDA raised questions. Sarah is clearly not receiving the care she needs, and her condition could become fatal if she doesn't receive proper treatment. Yet Sarah is still on the road with the circus and is being forced to perform night after night. PETA is calling on the USDA to require Ringling to remove her from the road immediately so that she can receive the care that she needs.
Last November, the USDA cited Ringling for failing to provide veterinary care to another elephant named Sara who is underweight and chronically lame. Ringling was cited yet again for transporting animals in trailers and boxcars with broken, protruding metal trim, wires, and sharp edges, despite the fact that Ringling's own medical records documented that elephants had already been injured by poorly maintained equipment.
An independent elephant expert also observed elephants used by Ringling at recent performances and reported elephants with several injuries, including a bloody foot, a fresh puncture wound, and extensive scarring. In addition, elephants were so stiff—likely with arthritis—that they had trouble moving.
Please never attend a Ringling performance and urge the USDA to take action to remove these ailing elephants from the road.
Creekstone Farms, a large U.S. distributor of beef, is recalling 14,000 pounds of meat because of possible E. coli contamination. An inspector found bacteria in the beef, prompting the USDA to warn of a "reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death." Where the infected beef ended up isn't clear, since it could have been repackaged for individual sale and sold under different brand names.
E. coli can cause vomiting, stomach cramps, internal bleeding, and kidney failure. Yum! And a recent study shows that animals raised for food carry highly drug-resistant forms of E. coli because of farms' overuse of antibiotics. The E. coli then gets passed on to humans who eat the animals' flesh. It gives new meaning to the term "Big Mac attack," doesn't it?
Want to avoid E. coli–infected burgers? Why not give veggie burgers a try? Unless you're a fan of kidney failure, and then, by all means ...
Written by Michelle Sherrow
UPDATE: Last week, Doug Terranova resigned from his position as zookeeper at the Dallas Zoo citing "issues in his business and personal life". Let's hope he stays far, far away from any animals.
An exotic-animal trainer's days of abusing exotic animals may be coming to an end. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has just heard the complaints against Doug Terranova, who has trained and provided elephants, big cats, primates, camels, and other animals for commercial use by circuses and television shows.
In 2009, PETA filed a complaint with the USDA after Kamba, an elephant in Terranova's care, escaped while on loan to a traveling circus and was struck by a sport utility vehicle on a highway outside the circus arena. It was at least the second time that Kamba had escaped and run amok.
PETA requested that Kamba be confiscated, and she was later taken to the Dallas Zoo for rehabilitation. The zoo subsequently purchased Kamba and Congo, another elephant previously in Terranova's care. Terranova was hired as a keeper at the zoo, although his employment status may change depending on the outcome of the hearing. The USDA could impose fines or restrict Terranova's license to exhibit animals. We'll keep you posted.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
Mr. Smith, where are you when we need you? PETA has learned that Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, not content with hiring an ex-CIA agent to spy on us, is now trying to use Congress to bully the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) out of doing its job.
According to sources on Capitol Hill, the staff of the House Committee on Agriculture, at the urging of a lobbyist for Ringling, summoned the USDA to justify an unannounced inspection (as inspections are supposed to be) that resulted in citations against Ringling for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including failure to provide veterinary care to a young elephant who is suffering from chronic lameness. In response, PETA has sent a letter to the committee chair and ranking member asking for a meeting to discuss Ringling's long history of animal abuse.
When the USDA attempted to perform its inspection, Ringling employees refused to allow the inspectors to enter for more than an hour. Hmmm … makes you wonder what Ringling is trying to hide, doesn't it?
If you're shocked that Ringling has resorted to hiring spies and using Congress to sweep its abuse of animals under the rug, read this eye-opening Salon article for more on the circus's shady dealings.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.