PETA has joined Animal Defenders International in filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for illegally issuing permits allowing the Ringling Bros. circus to export endangered tigers and elephants for use in its shows anywhere at any time for the next three years!
How Do You Spell ‘Rubber Stamp’? F-W-S
FWS has allowed incomplete permit applications from Ringling for far too long. It is illegal to export endangered animals, and the Endangered Species Act includes exceptions to this prohibition only in the most limited of circumstances. To get a permit, an application containing very specific information needs to be submitted to FWS—and as a matter of law, all this information must be made available to the public.
FWS violated this requirement in numerous ways by issuing these latest permits. First, it didn’t tell the public about four of the elephants Ringling sought to export, so PETA and the public were illegally deprived of some of the information related to the applications. In addition, the permit applications to which the public was given access lacked extensive information required by law, including details about when, to where, and for how long Ringling intends to export the animals as well as specific data about Ringling’s supposed conservation education activities, which it used as justification for the permit.
Because concerned citizens were denied this information—and because FWS must stop illegally rubber-stamping incomplete permit applications—PETA has filed suit.
Big Suffering Behind the Big Top
There’s no telling how much these animals will be forced to endure abroad, where, in many countries, animal protection laws are scarce and enforcement is even less common. One of the elephants FWS is allowing Ringling to export is Sarah, who tested positive for tuberculosis and was taken off the road after collapsing last year in Anaheim, California—and after the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited Ringling for failing to treat her adequately for a chronic infection.
At home or abroad, Ringling is bad news for animals, which is why more and more people are speaking out against the circus’s inexcusable cruelty.