Ringling Bros. on Trial for Elephant Abuse

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banner.jpgWashington, DC — Today, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the federal district court in Washington D.C. issued a major ruling rejecting the last-ditch attempt of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to avoid trial over charges that the circus abuses its Asian elephants in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act.

The lawsuit was brought by the American SPCA and the Animal Protection Institute among others. The suit alleges that

…the circus violates the Endangered Species Act by abusively training and disciplining elephants with sharp implements such as bullhooks, by intensively confining and chaining the multi-ton animals for prolonged periods, and by forcibly separating baby elephants from their mothers.

We’ve all grown up loving the circus and watching in awe as the lion tamers snap their whips at the lions and tigers, the elephants parade and dance like the gently giants they are and the monkeys perform their antics – all for the entertainment of the crowd.

But there is another side to all this. As described by API,

The circus industry aggressively promotes circuses that use animals as safe, fun, and wholesome family entertainment. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Despite the marketing glitter and glamor, the animals remain involuntary participants in a degrading spectacle, performing not because they want to, but because they are forced to.

Travelling across the country for most of the year, circus animals are forced to endure cramped, unnatural living conditions that put them under tremendous physical and psychological stress. They also face cruel training methods that use violence, fear, and intimidation, when outside of the carefully controlled performance and pre-show events that the public are allowed to witness.

Yeah, I know the circus folks have to make a living but I think they could do it without the animals. And I know we absolutely must be entertained. But we are supposed to be the smartest of the animals. Are we smart enough to come up with a way to be entertained without abusing our distant cousins?

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2 Comments on “Ringling Bros. on Trial for Elephant Abuse”

  1. Capt Fogg Says:

    I’m no fan of circuses and I don’t like to see most of these animal shows either, but I don’t think Elephants feel degraded and I don’t think horses run at the races because they want to either. One of the reasons that Indian Elephants still exist is that they are used for tree hauling and other work.

    The life of a wild animal is overly romanticized and usually consists of constant hunger, thirst and fear and almost always ends violently.

  2. expatbrian Says:

    I agree with your take on the life of wild animals. What should be of concern as far as those animals that are disappearing is where they reside in the food chain. Many of the animals that are disappearing are important in that they control the populations of other, lower animals such as birds of prey and snakes controlling rodents. Probably more important even than those are the small creatures who are responsible for pollination.
    If they are lost through environmental changes we are gonna be in a world of hurt.


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