Caught Again! Feds Cite Raleigh-Bound Ringling Bros. for Vet-Care Violations

Circus Denied Veterinary Treatment to Suffering Elephants Apparently Locked in Boxcars for Days at a Time; PETA Calls for Investigation

For Immediate Release:
January 26, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Raleigh, N.C. – Yet again, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), this time for denying veterinary treatment to three elephants for one to four days at a time while on the road. Now, PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” is calling on the USDA to investigate the Raleigh-bound circus’s troubling excuse that it could not access the elephants to provide treatment because they were confined to boxcars—a likely violation of the federal Twenty-Eight Hour Law, which prohibits confining animals for such prolonged periods.

“Failing to treat elephants for medical conditions is appalling, and doing so because these elephants were locked in boxcars for days at a time would be doubly cruel and illegal,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on the authorities to hold Ringling accountable for apparently breaking federal law again—and on families to stay far away from this despicable circus.”

In nature, elephants walk with their herds for up to 30 miles every day, but in circuses, these animals are kept chained and confined when they’re not performing, leading to arthritis and foot problems, the leading reasons why captive elephants are euthanized. The three elephants mentioned in the USDA’s inspection report—Nicole, Sara, and Rudy—all have histories of lameness and/or chronic foot problems, yet Ringling continues to force them to perform in arenas across the country.

Ringling’s previous violations of the AWA include, among many others, failure to provide adequate veterinary care, failure to handle animals in a manner that prevents physical harm, and failure to handle animals safely. In 2011, Ringling’s parent company was ordered to pay $270,000—the largest fine in circus history—for violations of the AWA.

A copy of PETA’s letter to the USDA is available upon request. For more information, please visit


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 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