Written by PETA
Today we released a new investigation inside Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus that shows workers on video as they beat and whipped elephants dozens of times in venues across the country. It's an investigation that I helped work on.
Once investigators capture video from an investigation, my job is to review all the footage and meticulously record the abuses and other notable findings. From that, I prepare condensed versions of the video for the public to view and draft complaints to officials, which in the new investigation into Ringling amounted to nine complaints to a total of 20 federal and state offices.
At times, reviewing so much footage can be tedious and extremely upsetting, but it's nothing compared to the relentless suffering that the animals who are used by Ringling are subjected to.
Most of the investigations that I work on involve farmed animals, in which the longest life span is about two years (for a pig used for breeding purposes). Her two years going from gestation crate to farrowing crate and back, over and over, are miserable, but her suffering comes to an end. For the elephants used and abused by Ringling, the suffering can go on for decades, and there's no end in sight—unless PETA and the public can convince the USDA to seize these majestic, elderly psychologically damaged animals.
Many of these elephants have not known anything close to a "natural" life since they were caught in Asia decades before I was born, but now the USDA has the chance to make things right by moving these animals to a sanctuary where they will be able to roam around the vast area that they need in order to be healthy and happy. Our brave investigator has armed the USDA with the information that it needs in order to make this happen and finally end these animals' decades of suffering.
It is an honor to work on all our investigations, which are the heart and soul of PETA, but it has been the highest compliment ever to be able to work with our investigator to document the heartbreaking plight of the gentle giants who are abused by Ringling and give them a chance to escape from their long years of torment and beatings.
Now that we have given the feds more than sufficient evidence to seize these animals, I hope we will finally be able to make history for elephants.
Written by Dan Paden, Senior Research Associate
A: The Wrestler director Darren Aronofsky!
That's right, the man best known for his portrayal of human suffering in movies such as the award-winning The Wrestler is now focusing on a different type of suffering … elephant suffering.
As a Brooklyn native, when Darren learned that notorious elephant abuser Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus would be setting up shop at Coney Island all summer long, he sprang into action faster than you can say RoboCop. He penned a powerful letter to the folks at Taconic Investments—who are donating the use of their Coney Island land to Ringling—asking them to reconsider their offer or, at the very least, impose restrictions that could reduce the suffering of elephants and other animals used by Ringling.
Not a Hollywood heavyweight? You can still follow Darren's lead by sending your own letter to Taconic and New York City officials letting them know that you won't stand up for animal abuse at Coney Island.
Written by Christine Doré
What do the tigers say when Ringling's trainers get too close? Let us prey. Zing!
Well, this week, PETA's touring "tiger" acted out that devious desire for payback. In Rochester, New York, our "tiger" broke out of his cage and shoved his "ringmaster" in—giving her a taste of her own medicine for our first-ever Tiger's Revenge demonstration.
Written by Liz Graffeo
As the highly anticipated trial concerning the abuse of elephants by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus rolls on, Kenneth Feld, the head of the company that owns the evil Ringling empire, has taken the stand.
On Tuesday, the multimillionaire CEO spewed his slick half-truths about how Ringling's elephants live (they live in cramped barns, where they are chained much of the time and are at risk of developing tuberculosis) and how bullhooks are just used to "guide" the animals. He actually said, "I don't view what I've seen as abuse."
Feld's self-serving double-talk is sickening, but this trial has him backed into a corner. The fact that he can no longer deny that circuses use beatings and chains to force majestic elephants into a lifetime of servitude is exciting news for elephants.
Now for those of you a-wonderin', here's a point-by-point refresher course on Ringling's checkered history of animal care. It'll help you see through this smooth-talking CEO's elephant pucky.
Written by Missy Lane
Once again our band of beautiful activists braved the winter weather to throw an eye-catching unwelcome party for circuses all across the South. The attention garnered by their loveliness was directed at the ugly circus industry.
Using abuse to force majestic elephants and big cats into performing humiliating tricks is depraved. That fact that circuses pawn this off as family entertainment just makes us tear our hair out (and our clothes off)! Take a look.
Whew—and I have to wear a jacket just sitting at my desk sometimes. Thanks for your dedication!
This has been a good week for elephants. Here's why: When Ringling rolls into town, it often tries to partner with local businesses to promote the circus and give out tickets for free or at discounted prices (probably because fewer and fewer people actually buy them nowadays). Well, PETA is always right on Ringling's heels, letting sponsors in on the beatings and misery that go on behind the scenes at the circus. This week, after hearing about Ringling's history of cruelty to animals, both D'Agostino, a New York grocery store chain, and Florida's Blood Centers have done the ethical thing by ending their partnerships and severing their ties with Ringling. (Yay!)
Thanks go out to everyone who participated in our action alert and told D'Agostino about elephant abuse in the circus. Your letters made a difference! D'Agostino and Florida's Blood Centers now join Denny's, Liz Claiborne, Lukoil, MasterCard, and Sears, all of which ended their Ringling sponsorships.
Well, Ringling, looks like you really should have taken us up on that offer to buy you an animatronic elephant to replace your live elephants. If you had, maybe people would actually want to support the circus again.
We encourage you to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or other media outlet urging your community to boycott animal circuses that might be rolling in the direction of your town. Click here to find media outlets in your area to contact.
With shopping season in full swing, PETA volunteers and campaigners are out there braving the cold. Check out photos of some of our recent attention-getting demos below:
In Massachusetts, PETA's "Grim Reapers" descended on Donna Karan's storefront and dragged bloodied furs through the streets of Boston. Taunting the heartless designer to "bring out her dead," they urged shoppers to never buy animals' skins. Who, after all, would be caught dead wearing Rudolph?
As the circus dragged its beast wagons into Charlottesville, Virginia, one of PETA's sexy "Tiger Ladies" posed caged, nearly naked, and painted head-to-toe with stripes to let locals know that wild animals don't belong behind bars. Some may say she's naughty, but we know it's Ringling who's actually getting the coal this year.
Other PETA activists held a demo on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee, urging holiday shoppers to buy alternatives to exotic animal skins. Snakeskin bags, shoes, and jackets all come with a high price—paid by the animals who are ripped from their jungle homes and skinned alive. If someone on your "good" list likes the look of animal prints, check this out for more information on compassionate, fashionable alternatives to cruelty to animals.
Feeling filled with holiday spirit and want to get involved? Fire off a letter to Ringling, Donna Karan, and other cruel companies that exploit animals for profit, and let them know that they "better watch out"—PETA activists are coming to town. And remember, 'tis better to give than to receive, especially when your gifts will save lives!
Our fearless campaigners have been hard at work exposing cruelty to animals—and sometimes quite a bit of themselves—all across the country!
A Lowe's in San Diego received a visit from a bikini-clad "mouse," who lay in front of the store on her own glue trap. In case you didn't know, Lowe's still sells hideously cruel glue traps— the kind in which animals can suffer for days before succumbing to starvation, dehydration, suffocation, and shock.
Meanwhile, PETA demonstrators have been visiting cities in Iowa and Nebraska to show the eating populace exactly what factory farming means for animals with these eye-catching gestation crate sculptures. It's hard to buy ham and Spam when you are crying!
Finally, our "tiger" visited some cities in the southeastern U.S., where she sat in a cage to demonstrate the cruelty of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Shreveporters were especially interested to see our tiger, because the last time PETA came to their town, the demonstrators were dragged off by the police! This time, law enforcement officials behaved themselves. Our tiger also captured a lot of attention in Little Rock!
And, while we're on the subject of Ringling Bros.—we heard that Hansons Windows, a home repair company in Michigan, was offering free circus tickets. No, that's not the great news—the great news is this: When we wrote to the folks at Hansons Windows and explained to them how animals in Ringling circuses are beaten, forced to perform tricks, and kept in chains or tiny cages for most of their lives, the president of Hansons ended the promotion!
Kudos to Hansons Windows for making the compassionate choice—and kudos to our campaigners for the great demos!
Written by Amanda Schinke
It seems that some circus industry folks—including Feld Entertainment, Ringling's parent company—have donated more than $40,000to certain Chicago aldermen and their respective ward organizations in an apparent attempt to derail efforts to pass an ordinance to prevent some of the worst cruelty that is inflicted on elephantsin circuses. And—what do you know?—a large amount of that money went to the ward organization of the same alderman (*cough* Willie Cochran *cough*) who blocked the vote last week—long enough for Ringling to set up shop in the city.
Now, before our lawyers take a bullhook to me, I should add that there's no absolute proof that these donations are causing these aldermen to have, shall we say, a certain lack of enthusiasm for the ordinance. I'm just saying ….
Y'all do the math, OK?
My favorite bit in this story is this: "Feld spokesman Stephen Payne said he had 'no knowledge of' the campaign contributions." I mean, it's so easy to just lose track of hundreds of dollars, isn't it? Maybe it just slipped through a hole in their pockets.
Of course, anyone familiar with those sterling and upright folks at Feld (and, yes, I'm being sarcastic) won't be at all surprised by this latest apparent indication of their complete and utter lack of scruples. After all, this is a company that hired operatives to infiltrate and spy on PETA and other animal protection groups, illegally recorded conversations, removed confidential documents, and so much other creepy, slimy stuffthat I can't list it all here.
When we sued, Kenneth Feld, chair and CEO of Feld Entertainment, got off the hook by claiming that all the spying was done by his staff, and that he didn't know about it or all the money spent on it. Not a very observant bunch over there, are they? Trust me on this, though—PETA is paying very close attention to Feld, Ringling, and this ordinance.
Written by Jeff Mackey
As I'm sure many of you are aware, circuses that use elephants and big cats in their acts are not on PETA's approved list! Circuses—including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, for instance—use aggression, violence, and confinement to "train" elephants to perform asinine tricks. This often results in pain, suffering, and trauma. Some elephants go mad, while others become infected with deadly diseases, like a human strain of tuberculosis (TB). Quite a few suffer early deaths. (If this is the first time you're hearing that all is not glitter and glamour for animals in circuses, I think I've got some sad news for you about Santa Claus as well.)
However, while we PETA activists have become well equipped for tackling Ringling's lies to the public about their practices, up from the slimy depths slinks Carson & Barnes Circus.
Let me back up by telling you about Joy. She's from a group of elephants that the Illinois-based Hawthorn Corporation was forced to relinquish because of chronic Animal Welfare Act violations. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the elephants at Hawthorn accounted for 21 percent of known cases of TB in elephants, and it's likely that these elephants are infected with drug-resistant, latent TB. In fact, half of Hawthorn's 22 animal handlers tested positive for TB exposure.
While most of the elephants at Hawthorn went to sanctuaries, we fought the USDA tooth and nail to prevent Joy from going to Carson & Barnes Circus. An overreaction on our part? Heck no! One of our incredible undercover investigators exposed cruelty so vicious that it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Elephants shocked with electric prods and repeatedly hit with bullhooks become so frightened that they trumpet and recoil from the trainer's vicious attacks.
This is the routine nightmare of elephants in their "care." They're tortured. Yet somehow these depraved animal abusers are still in business and were allowed by the USDA to acquire Joy with the understanding that they'd never use her in their traveling show or for any sort of public contact because the USDA determined that the Hawthorn elephants posed a danger to the national elephant herd and public health.
Then! Less than a year after they got Joy, Carson & Barnes turned right around and submitted a request to the USDA to use her anyway for "educational demonstrations and possibly for elephant rides." Here's the USDA's rather irritated response:
As you might recall, you had several conversations with Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer, Eastern Region Director, Animal Care, in March and April 2005 regarding EAF's [the circus's Endangered Ark Foundation, which is nothing more than a breeding facility to supply Carson & Barnes with more unwilling performers] willingness to be a donee for Joy. In each of those conversations, you, among other things, agreed on behalf of EAF not to allow Joy to travel or be in contact with the public. Therefore, EAF's plan to use Joy for "elephant rides" or any other exhibition that involves public contact or travel would not be acceptable to [the USDA].
Yeah, these carnies really care about the animals, eh? They will stoop so low as to risk the health of Joy, other elephants, and little kids just to make a buck off elephant rides.
Boo-yah! Little C&B thought they run with the big dogs in janky dirty dealings? But remember what we told you the five fingers said to the face? SMACK!
Posted by Missy Lane
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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.