USDA Cites Ringling for Elephant Abuse

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2 min read

PETA has obtained copies of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection reports that describe repeated citations against the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for failing to adhere to the bare minimum regulations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

According to the most recent USDA inspection report, Ringling has failed to provide adequate veterinary care to an elephant named Sarah who is apparently suffering from an infection: According to Ringling’s medical records, Sarah has a history of pus oozing from her vulva and now also has a significantly elevated white blood cell count. But handlers have been ignoring orders from the circus’ senior veterinarian to rinse the infected area twice a day, and there was no documentation that this ailing elephant’s blood work was even reviewed. Indeed, Ringling did not express concern about Sarah’s high white blood count until the USDA raised questions. Sarah is clearly not receiving the care she needs, and her condition could become fatal if she doesn’t receive proper treatment. Yet Sarah is still on the road with the circus and is being forced to perform night after night. PETA is calling on the USDA to require Ringling to remove her from the road immediately so that she can receive the care that she needs.

Last November, the USDA cited Ringling for failing to provide veterinary care to another elephant named Sara who is underweight and chronically lame. Ringling was cited yet again for transporting animals in trailers and boxcars with broken, protruding metal trim, wires, and sharp edges, despite the fact that Ringling’s own medical records documented that elephants had already been injured by poorly maintained equipment.

An independent elephant expert also observed elephants used by Ringling at recent performances and reported elephants with several injuries, including a bloody foot, a fresh puncture wound, and extensive scarring. In addition, elephants were so stiff—likely with arthritis—that they had trouble moving.

Please never attend a Ringling performance and urge the USDA to take action to remove these ailing elephants from the road.
Written by Jennifer O’Connor

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