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Sacramento Inspection Revealed Painful Foot Problems, Probable Arthritis
For Immediate Release: September 14, 2010
Contact:Debbie Leahy 757-622-7382
Stockton, Calif. -- This morning, PETA sent an urgent letter to Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston, calling on her to intervene on behalf of four elephants traveling to Stockton with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Last week, an inspection during the circus's engagement in Sacramento revealed that the animals are suffering from lameness and stiffness consistent with arthritis. The group is asking Mayor Johnston to prevent Ringling from forcing the elephants to perform painful tricks, which are likely to worsen the animals' condition and could eventually result in the need to euthanize the animals.
"Forcing elephants to perform uncomfortable tricks and painful contortions despite the animals' ill health is cruel--and it could be a death sentence," says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. "Because Ringling won't take proper care of these elephants, we are asking Mayor Johnston to use her authority to protect them."
For more information about PETA, please visit PETA.org.
PETA's letter to Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston follows.
September 14, 2010
The Honorable Ann JohnstonMayor of Stockton
Dear Mayor Johnston,
I am writing to advise you of some recent developments concerning Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and to ask you to take action regarding the circus's upcoming visit to Stockton. When Ringling arrived in Sacramento last week, Dr. Mel Richardson, an exotic-animal veterinarian with 28 years of experience, inspected the elephants. Dr. Richardson has cared for and consulted on the cases of more than 80 elephants. He recommended that four lame elephants, Bonnie, Karen, Minyak, and Nicole, be exempted from performing physically strenuous and painful tricks, such as standing on their hind legs. In addition to causing them pain, these tricks may worsen the physical condition--believed to be arthritis--that the elephants suffer from.
Dr. Richardson's observations have been confirmed in evaluations prepared by Philip Ensley, D.V.M., a board-certified veterinarian who served as the associate veterinarian for the San Diego Zoo for 29 years. Dr. Ensley spent more than 1,300 hours reviewing 15 years' worth medical records of elephants used by Ringling. He confirmed that Karen has suffered from inflammation in her legs and severe lameness as far back as 1996 and that Nicole has suffered from stiffness, lameness, and swelling in her legs for many years.
This is a life-threatening situation for these elephants. According to Gary West, D.V.M., a former Ringling veterinarian, "Foot-related conditions and arthritis are the leading cause of euthanasia in captive elephants in the United States." Furthermore, Wild Mammals in Captivity: Principles and Techniques, an industry guide developed by dozens of internationally renowned experts, states that circus tricks, such as headstands, hind-leg stands, lying down, and sitting up, place "a great deal of stress on the muscles and joints of these very large animals."
Elephants in circuses suffer many abuses, including routine beatings, as we have documented in undercover videos, and they are often kept chained for days at a time in poorly ventilated boxcars. At the very least, please ensure that these elephants are given a reprieve from painful and harmful circus routines while in your city. We realize that Ringling will do everything in its power to prevent such a reprieve, and we stand ready to provide you with information that will confirm the facts, substantiate credentials, and offer details about the failure of Ringling's paid experts to correct these problems.
I look forward to your response.
Debbie Leahy, DirectorCaptive Animal Rescue and Enforcement Department, PETA
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.