Caught Again! Feds Cite Ringling Bros. for Vet-Care Violations in Indianapolis

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

For Immediate Release:
December 31, 2014

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Indianapolis – 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, according to a December 5 inspection report out of Indianapolis that just became publicly available. Now, PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” is calling on the USDA to investigate the 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 breaking federal law yet again.”

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 lameness and foot problems, the leading reasons why captive elephants are euthanized. PETA called on authorities to stop two of the three elephants mentioned in the USDA’s inspection report from performing in Indianapolis, as they have histories of lameness and/or chronic foot problems—but Ringling has continued 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.

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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