Written by Michelle Kretzer
The week isn't going so well for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The company had been benefiting from online promotions through Travelzoo, a site that offers discounts and deals on travel and entertainment. But that was before PETA and its supporters stepped in.
PETA sent Travelzoo information about Ringling's long history of animal abuse. We detailed how Ringling was handed the largest fine in circus history—$270,000—by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for dozens of violations of the Animal Welfare Act. We revealed how former circus employees admitted that Ringling trainers routinely beat elephants and jabbed them with sharp metal bullhooks in order to force them to perform.
We are pleased that Travelzoo listened and made the compassionate decision to stop offering Ringling ticket deals. Travelzoo joins Lucky Brand, Denny's, Lukoil, MasterCard, Visa, and Sears, all of which have terminated Ringling sponsorships and promotions. Let's keep going after Ringling until its trainers stop going after animals. Ask the USDA to seize the ailing elephants used by Ringling and transfer them to a reputable sanctuary.
Written by PETA
PETA, we know that some rules (such as being quiet in meetings)
are meant to be broken, but anti-cruelty laws should never
be ignored. That's why when we heard that Ringling Bros. was going to
Columbus, Ohio, and taking elephants and abusive bullhooks
with it, we wrote
to the mayor asking
him to enforce a law that bans electric and other prods and similar devices
from being used on animals in circuses. And what do you think Mayor Michael B. Coleman
said in response? Not a
So we showed up outside City Hall—bullhooks in
hand—with signs reading, "Mayor Coleman: Enforce
Anti-Cruelty Laws" and "Beating Elephants Is a Crime."
seeing the bullhooks in person—with their sharp
steel hooks designed to dig
into elephants' flesh in the most sensitive areas (such as the soft
flesh behind the ears and inside the ear and mouth)—here's hoping Mayor Coleman straightens up and enforces the law.
to join us when PETA comes to your town to help animals? Join our Action Team!
Written by Jeff Mackey
PETA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund have submitted
comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) urging the agency not to
issue an Endangered Species Act breeding permit to California-based Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT)—Hollywood's
number one provider of elephants for movies and TV—citing the exhibitor's sordid history of animal abuse.
PETA will also be asking that criminal charges be considered
against HTWT co-owner Kari Johnson for possible perjury. In her 2009 federal
court testimony, Johnson testified that she had never seen anybody in her life
strike an elephant with a bullhook. Yet video footage captured during an Animal
Defenders International investigation predating her testimony shows Johnson
herself, along with her co-owner and other HTWT trainers, forcefully using electric
prods (which are illegal in California) and bullhooks to hit and intimidate elephants repeatedly during training sessions.
claims that it seeks the permit to breed baby elephants in order to somehow
help the species, but the company is really just helping itself. It sells these
animals to zoos and other facilities at a significant profit or cruelly
exploits them for use in circuses, movies, and the like. None will ever be
released into the wild—and of the four babies already bred by HTWT, three died
before their fourth birthdays.
HTWT also routinely chains elephants for prolonged periods, which
can cause severe foot and musculoskeletal problems.
No one could possibly be trusted less
to have elephants' best interests at heart. And since the Endangered Species
Act prohibits harming, harassing, or wounding endangered Asian elephants, the FWS
must see that HTWT does not even remotely qualify for the permit it seeks.
How You Can Help
Elephants belong in forests or savannahs, not showbiz.
Please choose only animal-friendly
entertainment for your family.
Now here's some real appointment television: On Earth Day—Monday, April 22—at 7 p.m. EDT (check your local
listings for the time in your region), HBO will premiere the documentary An Apology to Elephants. Watch a preview here.
In his review, David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle says that Apology, narrated by Lily Tomlin, is "impossible to ignore because of the irrefutable arguments made by its savvy combination of testimony from animal experts and images of elephants being abused."
Since HBO began working on this project more than two years ago, PETA has been on board offering information and documentation. The documentary features pictures and video footage provided by PETA, including photos from a whistleblower that document the shockingly cruel way in which Ringling Bros. circus breaks the spirit of baby elephants and video footage from a Ringling elephant walk showing bullhook abuse. Viewers will see elephants Maggie—who suffered alone for years at the Alaska Zoo before being sent to a sanctuary following a lengthy PETA campaign—and Nosey, in whose behalf PETA has been working for years.
Among the experts who participated in the documentary are Dr. Mel Richardson and Dr. Joyce Poole. Also appearing is passionate young animal advocate Rose McCoy, who once schooled McDonald's execs over their failure to reduce the suffering of chickens.
Besides watching An Apology to Elephants yourself, encourage others to tune in, too—and tell them never to buy a ticket to any circus that uses animals.
Police are investigating the shooting of an elephant used by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The incident reportedly occurred outside the Bancorp South Arena in Tupelo, Mississippi, early on the morning of April 9. Knowing Ringling's shady history when it comes to animals (some years ago, a trainer traveling with Ringling shot a tiger to death while the animal was locked in his cage), PETA is urging authorities to interview all circus employees carefully. Also, as usual, it appears that no veterinarian was on the road with the circus despite a history of animal illnesses and injuries. So with only the self-interested circus's word to rely on, who knows if the elephant is receiving proper care? PETA has increased the reward for information leading to a conviction in the attack.
Numerous Ringling workers have histories of animal abuse, which is why PETA is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and local law enforcement to look particularly closely at the circus's employees—some of whom have been caught on film beating elephants with sharp, heavy bullhooks and some of whom are the subjects of recent sworn eyewitness complaints about animal abuse—when seeking the culprit or culprits in this incident.
To help authorities find the person or persons responsible for this horrendous act, PETA will be adding up to $5,000 to the $250 reward offered by former 1st Congressional District Rep. Travis Childers. Because shooting an Asian elephant is a violation of the federal Endangered Species Act, the FWS is also offering a $5,000 reward.
PETA is also asking the USDA to inspect the injured elephant and ensure that she is receiving adequate treatment. Ringling has a long record of failing to provide elephants used in its shows with adequate veterinary care. The circus commonly travels without a veterinarian—despite the large number of animals it carts all over the U.S.—and the veterinarians it does have often sign off on allowing ailing elephants to perform painful tricks.
Even without the threat of being shot, Ringling's elephants must regularly endure violence and distress. Please urge the USDA to confiscate all the ailing animals from Ringling for placement with reputable sanctuaries. Never, ever patronize circuses that use animals, and tell others to avoid them as well.
Update: When the plan to hire a Russian cargo jet to
take the Toronto Zoo's three elephants to a Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary
didn't work out, the Royal Canadian Air Force stepped up. Now, as soon as
Defence Minister Peter Mackay gives the thumbs-up, Toka, Thika, and Iringa will
be flying high courtesy of a C-17 transport aircraft and a military endeavour
dubbed "Operation Dumbo Drop."
The following was originally published on November 29, 2012:
It could be only a matter of days until the Toronto Zoo's three captive elephants, Toka, Thika, and Iringa, let the frozen Canadian ground fade into the distance as they set off for their new home: the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in sunny California. After a long campaign by Zoocheck Canada, PETA members, and the compassionate members of the Toronto City Council, the trio will trade their zoo enclosure for acres of varied natural terrain, lakes to bathe in, heated barns, and even therapeutic whirlpool baths. Although the elephants' tale has a storybook ending, their journey to freedom certainly wasn't without conflict.
jmbone | cc by 2.0
The Long Road Home
When the Toronto Zoo, under pressure from Bob Barker, Zoocheck Canada, and PETA, initially agreed to release its captive elephants, it was determined to simply ship them to another decrepit zoo. But the Toronto City Council sided with animal advocates and voted for the gentle giants to be retired to PAWS instead.
Then it seemed as though one of the elephants' foot ailments might make the 40-hour drive too dangerous. So animal advocate extraordinaire Bob Barker stepped up and provided the trio with their own "Elephant Force One" of sorts, a private plane that will quickly whisk them to their new home. The Toronto Zoo then raised concerns about the potential for tuberculosis at PAWS, but an independent infectious-disease report determined that the facility was safe. Once again, the Toronto City Council voted, and once again, it resoundingly insisted that the elephants be sent to PAWS immediately.
A Tale of Two Cities
The Toronto City Council also said in its final motion on Toka, Thika, and Iringa that it feels that Edmonton, Alberta's, Valley Zoo should allow the zoo's lonely elephant, Lucy, to retire to PAWS as well. Because elephants are ill-equipped to tolerate frigid weather, Lucy is forced to spend the winter months confined to a small barn. Our lawsuit to free Lucy did not succeed despite the wonderful comments of one judge who felt Lucy should be free but who could not persuade the other judges on the panel. Lucy hasn't had the company of any other elephant in four long years. But Zoocheck Canada and PETA are determined to win her freedom, and Bob Barker is advocating for her with all his might.
What You Can Do
Please join us in asking Edmonton officials to give Lucy the peaceful retirement that she so deserves.
Less than a year after a security guard reported the abuse of a chained
elephant by a bullhook-wielding Ringling Bros.
circus handler in Colorado, an employee at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum—a venue
where PETA captured Ringling bullhook use on video as part
of a 2009 undercover investigation—has reported more bullhook abuse during Ringling's March 2013 tour there.
PETA's 2009 investigation of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus found that workers were beating, whipping, and hooking elephants and striking tigers.
Based on the whistleblower's affidavit, PETA has submitted a
complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with an urgent
request for the agency to inspect Ringling while it remains in New York
(through April 3). The arena staffer—who also noted that she saw no exercise pens set
up for the tigers—complained to the Nassau County District Attorney
Office's animal-cruelty unit, which is investigating.
Hasn't being slapped with the USDA's largest-ever penalty against a circus for violations of the Animal Welfare Act deterred Ringling
from abusing elephants? Please politely urge USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to finally seize Ringling's
suffering elephants and transfer them to a reputable
Circuses are running into more and more places where they can't force elephants and other exotic animals to perform, as localities ban the use of bullhooks—sharp metal weapons that resemble fireplace pokers—and other cruel devices. Trainers use them to beat, hook, and gouge elephants on the most sensitive parts of their bodies, like behind their ears and knees. In Florida alone, Pompano Beach, Clearwater, Hollywood, and Margate have already enacted bans, and now we can add Hallandale Beach to the list of dozens of compassionate communities across the country that are saying, "Not on our watch."
Thanks in part to the help and hard work of
local group Animal
Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), the
City Commission of Hallandale Beach, just north of Miami, voted to ban circuses
and rodeos from using bullhooks, whips, and other cruel devices to
beat animals. Since threatening elephants, tigers, and other animals by showing
them a bullhook or whip is the only way that circus trainers can make them
stand on their heads, jump through rings of fire, or perform other frightening,
confusing tricks, circuses
will have to leave exotic animals out of their acts if they want to entertain
in Hallandale Beach.
PETA is sending the Hallandale Beach city commissioners a box of vegan chocolates to thank them for being elefriends.
Los Angeles is also considering a bullhook ban. Let the City Council know that you (and elephants) would love to see Los Angeles become known as the City of Angels to Animals by passing the ban.
The Goddess of Pop is also a goddess to
pups. When Cher tweeted, asking for information from PETA on how to help dogs left to face the harsh
winter weather alone outdoors, many of her fans responded, and PETA sent her information on our "Angels for Animals"
doghouse sponsorship program.
Elsewhere on Twitter, Miley Cyrus showed us some puppy love, Sam
Simon spoke out for dolphins, and Olivia
Munn helped us celebrate our victory for three soon-to-be-released elephants.
Charlotte Bobcats and Kentucky Wildcats
fans already knew that the NBA's youngest player, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (MKG), is also a really kind person, and now MKG is proving it to animal advocates,
too. When the gentle giant was ready to share his home with a new dog, he adopted a puppy who had been
abandoned in the parking lot of the Humane Society of Charlotte.
Maybe fellow rescued-dog parent Chelsea Handler will invite Michael and his new pup on her show. Her conversations with guests
often do turn to animal issues—like when Marion Cotillard stopped by and she and Chelsea both shared their disdain for SeaWorld.
You'll never catch our buddy Christian Serratos at SeaWorld, either—but you will catch her gracing the list of the 50 Brightest Latino Stars Under
25, with fellow PETA pals Daniella
Monet and Marlen Esparza.
Awards abound for animal advocates this
week: Paul McCartney,
Pink, Carrie Underwood, Steve Aoki, Ellen DeGeneres, Trent Reznor, and Tegan and Sara have all been nominated
E!'s Catt Sadler lifted her voice
for animals this week, too. She openly joined the ranks of the fur-free and
fabulous in her piece "Real Stars Who Love Fake Fur," in which she
name-dropped our friends Eva
Mendes and Charlize Theron.
To keep up with what
all your favorite stars are doing for animals, follow @PETA on Twitter.
Los Angeles has been on a roll lately (ever since PETA's new Bob Barker Building opened there—coincidence?). First, the city banned pet stores from selling puppies, kittens, and rabbits from breeders, and then it became the first major city to embrace and endorse Meatless Monday. Now, the City of Angels is considering a ban on cruel elephant acts.
Here's what's going on: The City Council's Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee proposed a measure that would ban circuses and other traveling exhibits in L.A. from forcing elephants to perform.
If the council passes the measure, Ringling Bros. and other circuses that abuse elephants will no longer be allowed to haul them to Los Angeles in cramped, stifling boxcars or trucks in which they're kept chained for up to 100 hours at a time. These circuses will no longer be allowed to drag elephants into an L.A. arena and force them to stand on their heads or balance on balls, with the ever-present bullhook looming threateningly nearby. In L.A., they would no longer be able to deprive elephants of the right to be elephants.
Ringling Bros. is already blasting the measure with both barrels, so the L.A. City Council needs to hear from every single person who has elephants' welfare at heart. Please write—even one line—to the council and encourage it to support the ban on cruel elephant acts. Get everyone you know to do the same so that L.A. can continue to serve as a role model for cities across the country.
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
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
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.