As Circus Heads to Town, PETA Urges Parish President to Keep Elephants Out of Chains

Notorious Ringling Bros. Circus Could Find Itself on the Wrong Side of Terrebonne Parish Law

For Immediate Release:
June 3, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Houma, La.

On June 11, Ringling Bros. will begin performing at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center, prompting PETA to send an urgent letter this morning asking Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet to put the circus on notice that Terrebonne Parish law requires that it provide animals with proper space, exercise, and freedom of movement—in direct opposition to Ringling’s documented history of chaining elephants all day, even when exercise pens are available (and often, the pens aren’t even set up). PETA has also urged President Claudet to keep tabs on the circus to ensure that it complies with the law.

“In nature, elephants roam for miles every day, but when on the road with Ringling Bros., these animals are kept locked up in chains and bound so tightly that they can barely move,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on officials to enforce Terrebonne Parish’s law—and urging families everywhere to stay far away from this cruel circus.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—recently ranked Ringling as number one on its list of the Top Eight Worst Circuses in the U.S.

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PETA’s letter to Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet follows.

June 3, 2015

Michel H. Claudet, President
Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

Re: Request to Ensure That Ringling Bros. Does Not Violate Parish Code

Dear Mr. Claudet,

I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to request respectfully that you ensure that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus complies with the Terrebonne Parish Code of Ordinances when the circus performs at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center from June 11 to 14.

The Code states: “Proper space shall be given to all animals with consideration to the species, size, and age and must be useable, maintained, and free of standing water, accumulated waste and/or debris, to allow for proper exercise and freedom of movement as necessary to maintain good physical condition.” Terrebonne Parish Code of Ordinances, § 15-17(d). Ringling routinely chains elephants for extensive periods and denies them adequate exercise.

Ringling’s own records indicate that the circus often fails to set up exercise pens at performance sites. A Ringling handler and a former Ringling employee testified that some elephants on tour are kept chained all day—even when pens are available.

This method of restraint is completely inadequate for the “species” and “size” of an elephant—an animal who travels up to 30 miles every day in the wild—nor does it allow for “proper exercise” or “freedom of movement.” Prolonged chaining is also severely damaging to elephants’ “physical condition.” Elephants with Ringling are plagued by arthritis and foot problems—severe and painful conditions that can be deadly and are directly linked to prolonged chaining.

In light of Ringling’s routine prolonged chaining of elephants—which is harmful to the animals’ physical and psychological well-being—please put the circus on notice that it will be required to provide the animals with proper space, proper exercise, and freedom of movement while in Houma, and please conduct unannounced inspections of the circus to ensure compliance.

Thank you for your attention to this important and time-sensitive matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Very truly yours,

Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Deputy General Counsel | Captive Animal Law Enforcement
PETA Foundation

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