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Alec Baldwin to USDA: Seize the Elephants

Written by Michelle Kretzer | April 13, 2012

“As a lifelong Democrat, I never thought I’d lead an effort to defend the symbol of the Republican Party,” writes Alec Baldwin in a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Baldwin is sending Vilsack the video he hosted for PETA exposing Ringling Bros.’ abuse of animals and asking the USDA to take action.

Despite the fact that many states and cities have animal protection laws in place that prohibit abuse such as beating animals with steel-tipped bullhooks, forcing crippled animals to work, or keeping animals in chains, state and local laws often go unenforced, and circuses like Ringling continue their cruel business as usual. But the USDA has the power to change that.

Local laws designed to protect these animals are not being enforced because the circus skirts authorities or uses its financial clout to get them to look the other way,” wrote Alec. “That’s why I am writing to you and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to step up and enforce the Animal Welfare Act.

Under the Animal Welfare Act, the USDA has the power to seize all of Ringling’s arthritic elephants who are forced to perform, meaning that these animals, who are beaten day after day to make them to perform painful stunts, could then be retired to sanctuaries. It would be another positive step for the USDA to take toward protecting animals from cruelty, after last year’s landmark $270,000 fine levied against Ringling for animal welfare violations.

Join Alec in asking the USDA to step up in behalf of elephants once again.

Commenting is closed.
  • stewart says:

    I am totally disgusted and dismayed over the atrocities occurring each and every day against all animals. I believe mankind’s gene pool needs to be rewired. They obviously are void of feeling and compassion for any living breathing CREATURE.

  • damnit says:

    These people are seriously sick. I couldn’t even watch the whole video. Please for the sake of these wonderful animals boycott this animal abusing circus now you have seen how they are trained. These stupid tricks are unnatural and definitely not clever.

  • SGKZ says:

    As human beings, we should be ashamed for having trained animals to peform “tricks’ that they would never do in the wild or in captivity unless they are forced to do so. There is no reason that an animal should have to perform for human entertainment. We tend to use our size and presence to train an animal that is smaller than us. This is not possible with animals that are bigger than us so other measures must be used. Regardless of the methods used, the act in itself is exploitive. We have taken advantage of an animal that would NEVER paint unless it was asked to. I respect the saying that “we must agree to disagee” that is so often used when stating opinion but my comments are not opinion they are fact and I am happy to provide documented studies. Common sense should tell us that performances by wild animals is wrong and I would hope a study is not required to know this. We, as human beings, should know this. Please do not display this exhibit as it would more than likely promote the training of animals to paint or perform other unnatural activities and lead to more exhibits. Animal exploitation for human entertainment is something I cannot fathom. I don’t understand how anyone with a conscience could. Whether or not animals are abused in the circus or treated like royalty in circus is not the issue. Yes, some circus animals are treated very well and some are not. People cannot dispute that they are some are not abused. The USDA confiscated 2 elephants that were being forced to perform while clearly being very sick or injured (Delhi and Ned both retired to The Elephant Sanctuary – both died, one from injuries sustained while being in the circus, the other from being weaned too soon). That said, I do believe that there are elephant keepers that form deep bonds with the elephants and do not abuse them. However, the act of confining a wild animal for human entertainment does not say much about us a country. There are several countries that do not allow wild exotic animals to perform in the circus . The act of employing circus animals by confining them ( by removing them from the wild, chaining them to a post, and housing in small box car) for the sole purpose of human entertainment is one of the most selfish acts we do today. Animals don’t perform tricks in the wild. Animals don’t sway, or bob their heads up and down or rock back and forth or pace in the wild. This is unnatural stereotypic behavior indicative of a traumatic episode. Just because they are capable of performing tricks does not make it okay and shows how arrogant we are in thinking that only human life is important. I am not an animal rights activist but I do support a ban on circus animals. We cite all types laws, guidelines standards, and hands on practices that tell us exactly just how inhumane we are allowed to be to animals before we get into trouble because their lives are not worth a much a human life. And that is a fact. There is no way to justify that this type of captivity is okay when we certainly would not do this to people.

  • Susan says:

    Thank you Mr. Baldwin for taking a stand on this issue. It really is disgusting to see what’s going on. I have also heard the USDA cannot make an unannounced inspection of Ringling’s elephants. That is such nonsense. Definitely agree this relationship needs to be broken up.

  • Tory says:

    This is the fault of Chester Gipson head of Animal Care at APHIS. He is a “lifer” w/USDA. When Vilsack is gone, Gipson will still be looking the other way and not enforcing the AWAct. There needs to be a congressional investigation with the Senate/House Livestock subcommittee on the collusion between Animal Welfare dept. and the AZA & circus industry. At present the AZA is writing the protocol for confiscated elephants by Gipson and that is why they are all ending up in zoos. It does not take a rocket scientist to read the Animal Welfare Act and see where it is blatantly not being enforced in the zoos either. The AZA has created a so-called national center in Fellsmere, FL and we can be sure they will crowd as many confiscated and other elephants as they can into multiple small 5 acre paddocks while calling it a sanctuary (a buzz word the captive industry is now usurping). This is why congress needs to look at them and make the break up the cozy AZA-Animal Welfare relationship. Also the circus is now using tazers which are better hidden in the hand to get the elephants to do what they want. I think tazers need to be mentioned anytime a bullhook is mentioned. The public may be gullible about circus spin that bullhooks are “guides,” but the public is aware that would not be the case with tazers.

  • carla says:

    I am an avid animal lover and Ringling Brother’s protester. Thank you Alec Baldwin!! I will continue to be the voice of these beautiful creatures. Circuses are a disgrace and should be shut down forever!!!!

  • A. Lovett says:

    Please help the elephants….please seize all of Ringling’s arthritic elephants who are forced to perform, and stop them from being beaten day after day…Please help & get them moved to sanctuaries!!!!