Written by PETA
It's happened again. After forking over a couple hundred dollars for tickets to a Ringling Bros. Circus performance in Everett, Washington, a lovely family had a change of heart after talking to PETA demonstrators outside the arena. Rather than watching trainers whip tigers and smack elephants with bullhooks, the entire family decided that it was worth it to sacrifice the money! (The venue refused to give them a refund.) Gotta love 'em.
If the circus is coming to your town, remember that leafleting can and does change minds. Contact us and we'll help you convince people never to buy tickets!
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Bullhooks are heavy batons with a sharp metal hook and point on the end. If someone routinely smacked you with one, wouldn't you eventually fight back? Video footage taken at the Toledo Zoo shows that a young elephant named Louie did just that: He charged his bullhook-wielding keeper, leaving him hospitalized with serious injuries. In the video, Louie is shown backing away when he sees keeper Don RedFox approaching him with a bullhook. Louie then turns around and charges at RedFox after RedFox jabs him with the implement.
The Toledo Zoo still uses the archaic free-contact elephant-handling system. In free contact, elephants are dominated and punished with force, and that puts keepers at constant risk. The zoo's use of the free-contact system has previously been discussed in Toledo. The zoo failed to act on a July 8, 2005, "Lucas County Commissioners Special Citizens Task Force for the Zoo Final Report" that confirmed that keepers have been injured under the current free-contact system. Now we are asking the zoo's board of directors to allow us to bring in a team of elephant experts who can train zoo staff to eliminate the use of bullhooks and transition to a protected-contact system, which more than half the accredited zoos in the country already use.
For the elephants' well-being and for the safety of zoo employees, please join us in asking the Toledo Zoo to eliminate cruel and outdated circus-style handling.
In a bid to stop Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's reign of terror over animals once and for all by getting the circus's exhibitor's license revoked, PETA has submitted more than 700 pages of evidence to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) documenting not only Ringling's long history of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act but also the circus's attempts to cover up the circumstances surrounding animals' deaths.
Just one of many examples is Riccardo, a baby elephant whose fatal fall off a pedestal during a training session (he was euthanized after breaking both hind legs) Ringling originally tried to characterize as "routine play." Another example is Clyde, a lion who died of heat stroke after being confined to a sweltering boxcar in Ringling's animal train while it crossed the Mojave Desert in 109-degree heat. A former trainer told PETA that Ringling tampered with the evidence by installing a non-working water misting system in the boxcar after Clyde died and warned him to not talk about the the circumstances of Clyde's death.
And then there are the hours of video that PETA amassed last year—which show Ringling handlers as they beat elephants in city after city across the country—as well as the damning photos taken by a former elephant trainer that show baby elephants as they are "broken" with ropes, bullhooks, and electric prods.
We think that all this adds up to several hundred pretty good reasons for the USDA to yank Ringling's license. If you agree, please take a minute to drop the agency a line.
Written by Alisa Mullins
Last year, Renningers Farmers & Flea Market in Mount Dora, Florida, banned elephant rides after PETA provided evidence of Liebel Family Circus' long list of USDA violations, its history of animal neglect and abuse, and the unavoidable risks posed by elephant rides. Now we are hoping that Daytona Beach, Florida, will follow suit, thanks to footage taken during Liebel's March visit to the city.
In 2005, Liebel Family Circus entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and was assessed a civil penalty of $2,885 for multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including failure to provide adequate space and veterinary care for animals, failure to have an experienced elephant handler, and failure to provide a safety barrier between the animals and the public. And it's easy to see why from this footage. Talk about a disturbing picture: An individual who was charged with controlling an elephant named Nosey holds a toddler by one hand and in the other holds a bullhook—a sharp, steel-tipped device that workers use to strike, stab, hook, prod, and intimidate elephants in order to make them obey. Not only that, but at one point Nosey was allowed to pick up a bucket while people were on her back. If she'd decided to throw the bucket, someone could have been seriously injured.
In light of this evidence of dangerous misconduct at Liebel's stop in Daytona Beach, PETA has sent the footage to the city's mayor along with a letter asking him to support legislation to prohibit elephant rides in the city.
In the wild, elephants travel in family groups, and female elephants stay with their mothers for their entire lives. Elephants who are trapped in circuses and forced to live in boxcars and endure years of abuse often become depressed and neurotic. Nosey, Liebel's only elephant, has been with the circus for decades and has already attacked at least one of Liebel's employees. In 2004, Nosey injured a worker, and after you read the worker's affidavit to the USDA, you can't really blame the elephant for her outrage. In the report, the worker recounts the frequent use of electric shock devices on the elephant and details an incident in which a trainer "used the bullhook handle, turned off the lights in the performance ring and beat the elephant. He at the time directed others to take part in that by using other objects such as [a] sledge hammer and shovel handles. At that time, the elephant was staked down by all four legs …." The employee also states that Nosey's attack "was not the first time the elephant had reached or struck out at people who worked at the circus."
Want to help shut down circuses that abuse and neglect animals? Refuse to go and tell your friends and family members to do the same.
Written by Logan Scherer
An apparently agitated elephant reportedly charged into the arena during Ringling's afternoon pre-show in Columbia, South Carolina, on Saturday, endangering about 100 spectators. Most attendees hurried away from the scene, and luckily, no one was injured, but the potential exists for injury or death when elephants rampage. Since 1990, dangerous incidents involving captive elephants in the U.S. have resulted in 13 human deaths and more than 135 human injuries.
The frightened elephant may have been trying to escape from the bullhook abuse that commonly takes place backstage at Ringling's shows. As documented in a PETA video—which was taken over a period of several months and released last July—of the same Ringling unit that is performing in Columbia, elephants are struck repeatedly with bullhooks (a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker that trainers wield to strike, stab, hook, prod, and intimidate elephants in order to make them obey). We are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to check this elephant for signs of bullhook abuse as well as to ensure that she is treated for any injuries sustained when she ran amok and that she is permanently removed from travel.
This is the second complaint with the USDA that we have filed against Ringling regarding its treatment of elephants—in less than a week. A few hours of "entertainment" at the expense of animals intimidated into performing dangerous and unnatural tricks is never worth the trauma inflicted on those animals or the danger to spectators and their children.
George and Weezie Jefferson may have moved up, but I'm jonesing to move out. My destination: Switzerland, which just might become the most animal-friendly nation in the world.
Last year, Switzerland passed a law that guarantees rights for all animals. Next month, voters will weigh in on a referendum that, if passed, will require that lawyers be assigned to protect companion and farmed animals from abuse.
I can only imagine the relief if such legislation caught on in the U.S. (and how much Judge Judy I'd wind up watching). Goldfish could be rescued from their scum-caked tanks. Lonely, cold dogs banished to back yards could enjoy warmth and companionship inside. Pigs, chickens, cows, ducks—any and all factory-farmed animals—might never again have their body parts burned or chopped off, and they'd be freed from their filthy cages, crates, and pens. Those examples are just off the top of my head. Jot yours down in the comments section below.
Written by Karin Bennett
The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde isn't just the lead singer of a rock band and a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer—she's an animal rights leader too. With that in mind, we're giving you a chance to win a copy of the band's highly anticipated new CD/DVD box set, Live in London. It includes all the major singles, from "I'll Stand by You" to "Brass in Pocket," and it hits store shelves tomorrow.
To enter, tell us what you've done to lead friends, family members, community members, or anyone else to help animals. Rise above the "Middle of the Road" and tell us about something that no one else has ever done. We'll give a copy of Live in London to the 15 readers who share the stories that inspire us the most.
Barack, the baby Asian elephant, wasn't even 1 year old when he made his Ringling "debut" last month. Now Barack has been removed from traveling with the circus, and PETA has confirmed that he has contracted a herpes virus infection that may cost him his life. Death from the herpes virus usually occurs within seven days after an acute onset of symptoms that include lethargy, swelling of the head and limbs, and a blue discoloration of the tongue. This frightening disease typically affects elephants under 10 years of age and has an 80 percent mortality rate among captive, Asian elephants.
Stress may be a factor in the development of this virus, which has killed 20 percent of captive-born Asian elephant calves in North American facilities since 2000. Putting Barack on the road to perform in the circus at such a tender age was surely a stressful experience, and we're asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate and, if appropriate, to pursue charges if the agency determines that Ringling violated regulations for handling or veterinary care.
Prior to performances, Barack was led around by rope restraints on his trunk and legs, and during performances he was forced to climb a pedestal while surrounded by trainers carrying bullhooks—weapons resembling fireplace pokers that are used for striking, stabbing, hooking, prodding, and intimidating elephants. Before the circus took Barack off the road, he reportedly became spooked and trampled his trainer, who has been seen in recent weeks wearing a brace on his right leg, presumably as a result of injuries he sustained when Barack ran amok.
If Barack survives the herpes virus, he doesn't have much to look forward to. When he's around 18 months of age, he will likely be pulled away from his mother and subjected to violent training sessions, as depicted in our recent exposé. These fear-based and abusive training methods have contributed to the deaths of two baby elephants: One fled his bullhook-wielding trainer and drowned in a pond, and the other broke both hind legs after falling off a training pedestal. Other baby elephants have also died at Ringling.
Speak up for Barack and all the other baby elephants abused by Ringling by contacting the USDA and asking the agency to investigate.
Great news! Thanks to pressure from PETA and kind readers who took action, the St. Lucie County Commission has voted unanimously to ban bullhooks from the proposed National Elephant Center (NEC).
A coalition of zoos plans to use the NEC to breed and temporarily house elephants from zoos that are making meager renovations to cramped urban zoo exhibits, so of course PETA has some serious concerns about the project, since intelligent, social elephants suffer and die prematurely in lonely, inadequate zoo enclosures. But PETA's biggest worry was the intended use of circus-style training, so we're thrilled that the NEC won't be allowed to use "bullhooks"—a weapon resembling a fireplace poker that trainers wield to strike, stab, hook, prod, and intimidate elephants in order to make them obey. By responding to PETA's call to ban bullhooks, the St. Lucie County Commission is taking a big step forward in making the lives of these social, intelligent, and complex animals a little bit nicer.
While the NEC will be bullhook-free, many of the zoos behind its creation—including the Oregon Zoo, Columbus Zoo, and Disney's Animal Kingdom—continue to use this outdated method for "managing" elephants and have a cozy relationship with Ringling Bros., whose trainers subject baby elephants to violent training with bullhooks. In fact, Ringling had announced that it was interested in moving some of its elephants to the NEC. Please join PETA's Action Team to get updates on ways to take action for animals.
Rejection is tough, but Ella PhantzPeril doesn't let it get her down. Initially snubbed by St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., officials, Ella PhantzPeril just wouldn't take no for an answer.
This week, Ella can be seen stopping (foot) traffic in Washington Square Park in Kansas City—where she received a warm welcome. And, judging by the photo, even George is behind her all the way.
Ella's found a place to unpack her trunk for the moment, but she's still shedding tears for all the elephants who face much longer, much more difficult journeys as they're dragged in shackles to circus appearances across the country and beaten with bullhooks behind the scenes.
Check back to see if your city will be receiving the privilege of Ella's company, and in the meantime, remind everyone you know that circuses are no fun for elephants.
Written by Heather Drennan
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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.