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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Ringling Slapped With Largest Penalty in Circus History

Written by PETA | November 28, 2011

Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, must now pay the largest settlement of its kind in U.S. history―$270,000―for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) dating back to 2007.

PETA has been after the USDA all this time to take action against Ringling for abusing the animals in its care. In recent meetings, we presented unequivocal evidence of animal abuse, including beatings, the death of a lion, lame elephants forced to perform despite chronic pain, and a baby elephant who died during a training routine. We had recently filed a new formal request for action against Ringling, and our attorneys had met with the USDA’s general counsel and urged her to begin enforcement proceedings.

PETA presented testimonial and photographic evidence that baby elephants at Ringling’s training compound are torn away from their mothers and subjected to violent training sessions so that they will learn how to perform tricks, as well as video footage from a PETA investigation showing how elephants used by Ringling are whipped, beaten, and yanked by heavy, sharp steel-tipped bullhooks behind the scenes, prior to performing. 

In addition to receiving the largest civil penalty ever assessed against an exhibitor under the AWA, Ringling must now provide all employees who handle animals with training and hire a staff member dedicated to AWA compliance. We will see how that goes.

This is a great start, but no one should forget that elephants and other animals pay the price every time anyone buys a ticket to the circus. Ask all the parents you know not to take their children to this cruel show, and explain why or show them this blog.

Please click here to thank the USDA for taking action against Ringling for its abuse of animals, and urge officials to go a step further and confiscate the circus’ sick and ailing elephants

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

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  • linda williams says:

    Where does Ringling find all these cruel people?

  • STEFFANI MAGNUS-REDINGER says:

    SHARE THIS WITH THE MASSES! PUT THEM OUT OF BUSINESS. GO GET REGULAR JOBS . TERRIBLY SHAMEFUL

  • Laura Grgich says:

    Everything should be liquidated and sold and any money accumulated should be used to fund sanctuaries for all of the animals. It is no wonder that some of these elephants end up enraged and kill their tormentors. I hope that extinction of the circuses comes soon. I don’t know how anyone could go to one if they are enlightened about the treatment of the animals.

    • zeeba Neighba says:

      Very well said Laura, and torture of this magnitude should be treated as a felony, as well. Thank you for saying what needed to be said.

  • L.E. says:

    HEY THERE DINGALING BROTHERS! YOU SUCK!!!!

  • DeAnna Chadwick says:

    If the circus can help change the world by giving up animals for their shows and showing legislators how difficult it is to house an elephant let alone train one for human mental stimulation. If the circus can remove the stunts the animals have to do and replace it means of education regarding the history of an elephant or by example to allow the public to come to them (the elephant on the grounds in Florida) and allow the public to interact with the elephants. If the circus can help organize establishments to help prevent poaching in 3rd world countries and educating big corporations who benefit from palm oil plantations who kill pigmy elephants by poisoning them. If the circus can help change the world then I can say that the circus is the biggest show on earth.

  • They should be a human entertainment industry from here on out. This is outrageous and all done in the name of the almighty dollar. Sickens me. Wish I had not gone and will never support them again.

  • teresa says:

    I will never go to the circus again. You all should be ashamed for the way you treat animals!

  • sherlizza says:

    Ringling denies all the accusations. Go figure.

  • b.l.walraven says:

    Haven’t been to a circus in years, saw the Russian Circus then with the tiger act and hated
    it. The idea of this beautiful animals being treated like this sickened me and I made myself the promise to never again to see an animal act. The video of the elephants at Ringleys
    made me cry.
    How in gods name can people be so cruel and evil. I just do not understand!

  • Madison says:

    At first I thought I was wrong to hold RBs. to this but now I’m never attending a circus as long as I’m alive.

  • Venee says:

    I can’t believe this. I honestly thought this kind of stuff only happened in other countries. I wish I wasn’t so naive. I took my 3 year old daughter to the circus this year at the Honda Center for her birthday. took so many pictures of us smiling and having with each other. Even when peta was handing out fliers I grabbed them, and thought no way do they allow this kind of abuse in the states. There are just getting pictures from other countries and pinning them on RBs. Ahhhh, I can’t believe I supported them in buying a ticket. The best I can do now is inform anyone I know not to go to the circus when they come in town. I deleted all my pictures we took at ringling bros because I’m that disgusted. Now I need to do my part, and help Peta make people aware. I will do whatever it takes to to help spread the truth!!!!!

  • Carol Paquin says:

    It’s encouraging to see people are changing their views. It is time to send the animals to sanctuaries. No one wants to pay to watch animal abuse, and honestly, that’s really what it is.

  • Jodi says:

    I am organizing a peaceful protest on behalf of the animals. Rochester, NY. Barnum and Bailey comes here once a year, unfortunately. Shows are October 30, 31, November 1,2,3. I’m planning to be there outside the Blue Cross Arena October 30, November 2 and 3.

  • laura says:

    Last night I went to Ringling Brother’s Circus in Sacramento, CA. I DID NOT pay for a ticket. My brother is a student trying to gain PR experience and Ringling Brother’s needed some PR help. Now I see why. The animals looked so tired and fearful. The man in the cage of tigers was using aggression to scare the tigers into doing tricks. Some of the animal helpers (trainers? Not sure) were speaking to the lions in incredibly aggressive ways during the animal greet pre-show. At one point in the performance there was a tiger that was not doing what s/he was told to do and the man in the cage made himself look more aggressive my raising and flexing his arm while making a quick moving action toward the tiger (it was like he was threatening to hit the tiger). The tiger then obeyed. It made my boyfriend and I sick and we almost left right then and there. We decided to stay because it was really awkward with my brother and his wife there but I told my brother how we felt. The performances without the animals were very impressive and would still bring Ringling Brothers plenty of money. The animal performances were completely unnecessary. All around us were televisions and speakers telling the audience members about how these animals have been saved from the possibility of being hunted down by poachers. How does stealing them from their natural habitat and making them perform save them? It is just another form of poaching, although they are not killed right away. The TV’s also said that Ringling Brothers has 200 acres designated for their animals. If they are constantly traveling throughout the year then when would they ever get to see this patch of land? I am still shaken by the whole thing and I feel outraged, helpless, and just . . . sad. I am going to teach my children about the animal abuse in circuses. Please do NOT support Ringling Brothers.

  • alan says:

    Same..I went to the ontario ca event today and saw the peta protestors. In thw back of my head I thought….damn crazies…and then I took the little pre show outside where you could see the animals prior to performing…..wow…when I walked past the peta protestor I told them I totally understand their view. Man thoae animals look soo sad…it really sucks….the show was ok though..I’m not goinf to put it as a total burn…Was there for 4 hours

  • Dee says:

    I bought tix for my fam to attend the show in Ontario CA today. I went in full of regret!:( the tiger show was so disgusting to me. Even my child noticed how the animals were whipped a bit during the act and how the tigers reacted w so much anger and fright all at once! The animals looked sad PERIOD! Ugh I went in w a heavy heart but still wanted to show my son an stepson(who were eager to attend) how circus is no place for animals. They were pretty bored as well and kept asking “why do the men hit the animals?” I then explained. We left while the show took a break. But even then my heart was in pieces just to think of what these animals go through to learn these tricks. I’m just glad my son and stepson NOW know , understand, and never want to visit a circus ever AGAIN! Seriously ppl, don’t support these events:( spend your money else where!!

  • TBM says:

    I just took my Children to ringling bros in CA today. As soon as we arrived we noticed the PetA protesters. I had heard of animal circus abuse but thought the problems were decades ago and had been resolved. My Children wouldn’t stop asking me who were the people holding up the signs. I tried explaining to them as best I could but in the back of my mind i didn’t really think much of it because I believed that animal circus abuse no longer existed. My children, throughout the circus kept asking me how and why these animals are being hurt. I figured they would forget about it and enjoy the show. but there was no forgetting. We got home and they continued to ask about the animal abuse in the circus. They asked me if we could find out more about this. We did… Only to find these horrific videos of these beautiful animals being abused. I refused to allow my children to see such atrocities!!!! And promise never to visit another circus again! My children want to know, “Why they dont shut down these places!!!???”

  • MARLEN SOSA says:

    I live in the Rio Grande Valley, south texas, and I used to be a fan of this circus. Today I saw for the first time this video, and I broke into tears at work. Have shared in my facebook and my email. I am completely devastated. I will never go to this circus, or other ever again.

  • Adriana Ramirez says:

    We (as a family) went to the circus today in Phoenix Az and It will be the last time we ever go to a circus with abused animals! I feel terrible for walking into the arena after PETA had signs “circus hurt animals”

  • eli liee says:

    If we stop supporting the circus, we stop the abuse that these giant creatures endure. By not going to the circus.

  • BabyBee says:

    UK has just banned use of wild animals in circuses! I only hope that US steps up and follows UK’s example. It’s disgusting how animals (especially children) as beautiful, intelligent, and innocent as elephants should suffer such disgusting cruelty and abuse in the name of entertainment! I rather die than be entertained this way!

  • HEART BROKEN says:

    I AM HEART BROKEN TO KNOW THIS REALLY GOES ON AT THE CIRUS. I WENT TO SEE THE RINGLING BROTHERS DRAGON SHOW IN VIRGINIA AND MEET A LADY AS I WAS LEAVING WHO GAVE ME A FLYER. MY 12 YEAR OLD SON READ THE FLYER AND SAID HE WOULD NEVER COME TO CIRUS AGAIN.MY HUSBAND SAID HE WAS IN DISBELIEF THAT PETA WOULD ALLOW SUCH ABUSE. WE WILL NOT BUY ANOTHER TICKET TO THE CIRUS. WE WILL GO TO THE ZOO WHERE THEY CARE & LOVE THERE ANIMALS. I WILL PRAY THAT THIS ABUSE STOPS. YOU CAN GET AN ANIMAL TO DO SO MUCH MORE IF YOU LOVE AND RESPECT THEM!!!!! PLEASE PRAY THIS ACTIONS STOP IMMEDIATLEY!

  • dawn orlando says:

    In this day and age so much information is out there on the cruelty of using animals for entertainment. Don’t buy a ticket.

  • Janice says:

    I went to a tingly brothers circus today in the barcelys center in booklyn. I can’t believe how many times the people hurt the orphans. That hurts me inside because i work at the zoo and today I brought my 3 year old niece to see it. When the circus was finished I saw these protesters for the organization PETA. I grabbed a flyer and now I’m researching about this problem. I could solve this by never going to animal circuses and I won’t bring my niece to them either. Anyways I like acrobatic circuses. I pray I hope god will forgive these people for hurting and forcing these animals.

  • Yoselyn says:

    went to the circus today and some lady gave me a flyer with the wedsite and now i feel horrible :( i hate the circus now .. i saw those people pro-formed !

  • Jennifur says:

    I wouldn’t be sad to hear about those evil people being kidnapped, tied up and beat with a crowbar daily. Maybe they would understand what they do to other living creatures. I will never go to a circus that exploits animals.

  • GETTINMONEY50 says:

    THIS IS DISGUSTING .. I HAD NO IDEA THAT CIRCUSES ABUSED ANIMALS UNTIL I STARTED RESEARCHING .. THE TRUTH IS THAT BARELY ANYBODY KNOWS THAT THIS IS HOW PEOPLE TRAIN THESE ANIMALS. MOST PEOPLE THINK THESE ANIMALS ARE TRAINED BY TREATS.. I WISH SOMEONE WOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS .

  • Elaine Brown says:

    May they reap what they sow.

  • judith keeley says:

    Bad karma for the humans.They will suffer the same pain as the innocent loving animals!

  • Happiness says:

    This is just so sad why would people do this.i will probably go buy a ticket to their show and protest.If I get put in jail so be it.If I die so be it but these animals will not get hurt as long as I am living.Honestly these people in the video all of them are going to go to hell because they just abused 10 or so of gods children,and they probably lost their job too BIG MISTAKE (:8{)-)

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