Undercover: Meet PETA’s Investigative Team

Published by PETA.

Today we released a new investigation inside Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus that shows workers on video as they beat and whipped elephants dozens of times in venues across the country. It’s an investigation that I helped work on.

Once investigators capture video from an investigation, my job is to review all the footage and meticulously record the abuses and other notable findings. From that, I prepare condensed versions of the video for the public to view and draft complaints to officials, which in the new investigation into Ringling amounted to nine complaints to a total of 20 federal and state offices.

At times, reviewing so much footage can be tedious and extremely upsetting, but it’s nothing compared to the relentless suffering that the animals who are used by Ringling are subjected to.

Most of the investigations that I work on involve farmed animals, in which the longest life span is about two years (for a pig used for breeding purposes). Her two years going from gestation crate to farrowing crate and back, over and over, are miserable, but her suffering comes to an end. For the elephants used and abused by Ringling, the suffering can go on for decades, and there’s no end in sight—unless PETA and the public can convince the USDA to seize these majestic, elderly psychologically damaged animals.

Many of these elephants have not known anything close to a “natural” life since they were caught in Asia decades before I was born, but now the USDA has the chance to make things right by moving these animals to a sanctuary where they will be able to roam around the vast area that they need in order to be healthy and happy. Our brave investigator has armed the USDA with the information that it needs in order to make this happen and finally end these animals’ decades of suffering.

It is an honor to work on all our investigations, which are the heart and soul of PETA, but it has been the highest compliment ever to be able to work with our investigator to document the heartbreaking plight of the gentle giants who are abused by Ringling and give them a chance to escape from their long years of torment and beatings.

Now that we have given the feds more than sufficient evidence to seize these animals, I hope we will finally be able to make history for elephants.

Written by Dan Paden, Senior Research Associate

Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind