Written by PETA
After Sacramento officials caved in to pressure from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and allowed elephants who are likely suffering from painful arthritis to hobble through shows last weekend—even though there's a city ordinance on the books that's supposed to protect animals in traveling shows—PETA protested outside Tuesday's City Council meeting in behalf of the elephants. Several of the elephants had been observed limping and walking with stiff legs and short steps—strong indications that they are badly hurting. These elephants should have been retired years ago.
Next stop, Stockton, California, where we've asked Mayor Ann Johnston to pull these ailing elephants from the show.
Stand up for elephants on Twitter. Retweet this petition. Also, order a supply of Ringling leaflets to distribute when the circus comes to your town!
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Industry interests trumped elephant welfare when city leaders failed miserably to implement a new ordinance intended to protect animals in traveling shows in Sacramento. After the city informed Ringling that four lame elephants were not to be allowed to perform physically strenuous and painful tricks that would further aggravate their conditions, Ringling was allowed to bring in one of their paid relief veterinarians to overrule the decision.
According to Philip Ensley, D.V.M, a board-certified veterinarian who served as the associate veterinarian for the San Diego Zoological Society for twenty-nine years, Karen and Nicole, two of the elephants originally disqualified from grueling performances, have a long history of suffering from severe lameness and stiffness. Dr. Ensely spent over 1,300 hours reviewing 15 years worth medical records of elephants with Ringling and confirmed that Karen has long suffered from inflammation and “[s]evere lameness” as far back as 1996 and that Nicole suffered from stiffness, lameness, and swelling in her legs. Both of these elephants were observed limping out of boxcars in Sacramento.
Feld Entertainment, Ringling’s parent company, has a history of refusing to cooperate with investigations and threatening to pull its ice shows out of cities proposing humane legislation or any enforcement. On Friday, Sacramento city officials caved in to the circus’ intimidation tactics instead of enforcing an ordinance that was unanimously passed by the city council, leaving the arthritic elephants to hobble through shows all weekend.
I think that artistic people are so fantastic. But I'm even more impressed when people take their artistic talent and use it to spread a message—like "elephants never forget." Needless to say, I was bowled over when I saw this piece by Amy Grace in Hot Springs, Arkansas:
Really catches your eye, right? We were so taken with Amy's piece that we're sending her a Compassionate Action Award for spreading such an important message. Check out what Amy has to say:
What inspired you to create this piece?
When PETA sent out their mailing about circus elephants and I got to reading about what those animals go through. It's so painful for me to hear about any animal suffering, and what's happening to these poor elephants is unjust. What's more sad is that a lot of people don't even know what is happening, and so they pay their money to go to the circus, which only supports the injustice that is being done. I thought that with my photography and design combined, I could help to catch a little attention to bring some awareness to the issue.
Graphic design is a very powerful way to spread the message of Ringling's cruelty to animals. How have people reacted?
So far, people have been touched by the image, I think, and some even felt inclined to have more in-depth conversations about the issue of animal rights in general—while others, I think, swept it to the side as just another "activist stunt." If I can get through to just one person, though, then it's a job well done. Just one person can make a big difference.
Are you into any other animal rights issues?
I am concerned for all animals and their well-being—from the animals on factory farms, to those being tested for products, to those being skinned for fur, to those being beaten and abused in their own home. I may not be able to save all of them—but I do what I can to help, in the best way I can. For me, artistic expression is what I do best, and I think it is a powerful medium that when wielded right can really catch people's attention, open them up to compassion, and persuade them to make changes in their own small ways.
I totally agree. Leave a comment below with your favorite way to spread the animal rights message!
Written by Marta Holmberg
Mobilized by PETA's Action Team, more than 200 people descended on the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, last night to let Ringling Bros. know that its elephant-abusing act isn't welcome.
The highlight of the evening came when protestors chanted, "There's no excuse for animal abuse—boycott Ringling circus," so loudly that they drowned out a Ringling promoter. At the time, the promoter was talking about Baby Barack—probably in a shameless attempt to hawk show tickets. Even after turning up the volume on his amplified microphone, the promoter was still overpowered and had no choice but to pack up his gear and leave!
PETA isn't alone in opposing Ringling, which allows its trainers to beat elephants with sharp, metal-tipped bullhooks to force the animals to perform; tears baby elephants away from their mothers; and keeps these smart, social animals in chains. In a historic partnership, four Northern California animal protection groups—the Marin Humane Society, East Bay SPCA, Humane Society Silicon Valley, and the Sacramento SPCA—have joined forces to ask everyone to boycott Ringling in response to its cruelty. We can take action, too, by asking officials to seize Ringling's abused elephants and by urging everyone we know to attend only animal-free circuses.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
There's nothing to celebrate about how elephants are treated in the circus: They are constantly beaten with sharp bullhooks, electro-shocked, whipped, and kept chained for days on end. But we can honor these beleaguered animals by speaking out and using our materials—from comic books to videos—to spread the word far and wide in order to get others to avoid circuses that use animals.
June 24 is "Remember an Elephant" Day. Tie a string around your finger and wear it all day. When people ask what the string is for, tell them about how elephant babies are taken away from their loving mothers and "broken" by being tied down by all four legs and beaten. Remind your friends, family, and coworkers that every ticket bought to a circus that uses animals perpetuates that cruelty. Show our video to someone with kids, and encourage him or her to join you in remembering elephants on this special day.
Elephants never forget, but people quickly do. Head over to Facebook to RSVP for the event, and don't forget to check out our cool new T-shirts and other good stuff that will help you educate others all year long!
One of our top activists has just been arrested for participating in an anti-circus demonstration in Dallas. Her crime? You tell us, Dallas P.D.! No one will even tell us why she was arrested! Watch the action for yourself:
Thanks to Animal Connection of Texas for capturing this on video, and hang in there, Meggan! We'll update you as soon as we know more.
Written by Amy Skylark Elizabeth
We're always super chuffed to hear what our supporters are doing to help animals (hey, we can't do it all ourselves!), so please, let us brag on one of our star members:
It was next to the last minute, when Anna Ware—a member of both PETA's Executive Committee and our Vanguard Society—discovered that the notoriously cruel Carson & Barnes Circus would be arriving in her community. Undeterred, she pulled together a great demonstration in less than 24 hours. Calling her friends to call their friends and calling us to call everyone we know, she let circus attendees know that they'd best turn around or they would be contributing to the suffering of animals. Anna went to Kinko's and printed out posters that detailed how camels and other animals are denied basic comforts such as shade and water, and she and the other demonstrators educated anyone within earshot:
No matter which circus may be coming to your town—or how last-minute it may be—you can follow Anna's example and put together an effective demonstration on the fly. For more ideas about how you can speak out for animals, check this out!
Written by Jeff Mackey
Oh, Canada … today we sing the praises of Marystown, Newfoundland, which recently put out a stop sign for cruel animal acts by joining dozens of other cities and banning acts that use exotic animals.
Marystown reportedly banned the use of animals for human entertainment because its residents fear that animals in circuses are being mistreated. It sounds like someone on the City Council got ahold of PETA's recent undercover investigation, which documented that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus handlers whipped tigers and hit elephants over and over with bullhooks.
Forward-thinking Marystown Mayor Sam Synard even acknowledged that forcing animals into artificial environments causes them "irreparable harm." To thank Mayor Synard, we sent him a letter today (and I'm sure the elephants and tigers would have signed it, too, if they had opposable thumbs).
If you haven't seen the spectacular Cirque du Soleil or any of the other amazing animal-free circuses, what in the world are you waiting for?
A reportedly "startled" elephant kicked a circus trainer or groom so hard that he was thrown 20 feet and died of his injuries at the scene. The attack occurred backstage at a Shrine Circus performance Friday evening in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
The elephant involved is believed to be an African elephant named Dumbo, who was captured in Africa in 1985 and belongs to Terry Frisco. PETA has previously caught Terry's brother, Tim Frisco, beating elephants behind the scenes.
No word yet on whether circus mouthpieces are attempting to claim that the elephant was "playing" with the trainer, but if a "startled" elephant can be this dangerous, imagine the damage that a really angry elephant can inflict. It makes the video that we told you about last week—in which a trainer with the Liebel Family Circus holds a toddler in one hand as she uses a bullhook in the other to jab an elephant—all the more harrowing.
This isn't the first time that an elephant has lethally lashed out at the guy wielding the bullhook, and it almost certainly won't be the last. Circuses rely on an abusive training regimen that starts with beatings and intimidation from the time that elephants are still babies and doesn't stop until they've performed their last headstand. Is it any wonder that some of these gentle giants eventually get fed up and fight back?
PETA has been trying to convince the Shriners to stop using animal circuses as fundraisers for years to no avail, despite the fact that their circuses are connected to a growing list of dangerous and deadly incidents involving wild animals. Last year, two elephants performing at the Murat Shrine Circus in Indianapolis, Indiana, knocked down a mobile staircase during elephant rides, resulting in a dozen children being treated by paramedics. In 2005, a trainer was stomped to death by an elephant used in a Shrine Circus in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 2002 and again in 2003, elephants bolted from the Shrine Circus tents and went on rampages in Wisconsin and Michigan, respectively. It's sad to think that this tragic list of deaths and injuries has failed to make the Shriners come to their senses.
Update: Recent news reports are claiming that Dumbo was trying to protect the groomer whom she stomped to death. But this happens every time someone is bludgeoned or stomped to death by an elephant or an orca: Those who profit from keeping the animals miserably bound in chains or confined to small pools always say that the animal was playing or trying to protect the person. The public should stand up and say, "Enough! We are not that gullible!" These animals are extremely intelligent. They know when to be gentle, and they know that you don't protect or play with human beings by smashing them into the ground or the bottom of the pool. After a lifetime of being told, "Do this, do that," being hurt with electric prods and bullhooks, and having their food withheld unless they stand on their head or tail, they crack.
The following is a guest post from Joyce Poole, co-founder of Elephant Voices—an organization whose aim is to increase awareness of the intelligence and wonder of elephants. Joyce has a Ph.D. in elephant behavior from Cambridge University and has studied the social behavior and communication of elephants for more than 30 years. She was an expert witness in the recent trial against Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus. This post originally appeared on ElephantVoices' blog.
In the final days of December, in the case against Ringling Bros. Circus for their abuse of elephants, Judge Sullivan ruled against animal welfare advocates on technical grounds. He did not address the merits of the case nor the expert opinions that we spent years preparing and weeks presenting in court.
This is a hollow victory for Ringling; It certainly isn't a vindication of their brutal training and management practices. The trial brought into the public domain the depth of abuse practiced by the circus. This particular battle has been lost, but although Ringling might think they have achieved a victory, they have in fact been significantly wounded. The war will yet be won as more and more people give their own verdict.
Ironically, the judgment was announced just days after additional abuse of baby elephants surfaced—this time one of Ringling Bros.' own employees blew the whistle, ashamed by his own treatment of baby elephants. You can read and see some of the horrific photos in the Washington Post's coverage here.
I reviewed reams of evidence against Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus as an expert witness, so I am well acquainted with their abusive treatment of elephants. Yet, the late Samuel Haddock's description of the babies' screaming and the harrowing images of their straining against the ropes and chains and being poked, prodded, and manhandled brought tears to my eyes.
The only reason why a bullhook has a steel point is to inflict pain. Deprivation, force, and pain form the basis of the training that baby elephants undergo to perform in the circus. Thereafter, restraint, deprivation, and attempts to avoid pain keep elephants in circuses under constant control.
Elephants in circuses are mere commodities for human entertainment: Prevented from behaving naturally and forced to perform behaviors never seen in nature, they are bought and sold, poked and prodded, separated from companions, confined, and chained on concrete and on trains. It is insincere to allow children to believe that elephants in circuses are living an acceptable life when the evidence for the opposite is overwhelming.
Ringling's treatment of elephants is outdated, ignorant, and inhumane. Progressive Norway intends to ban the use of elephants in circuses. India has already done so. Isn't it time for America and other so-called enlightened countries to follow suit?
Written by Joyce Poole
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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.