stop animal cruelty

posted by Stacy on Oct 27


The Circus Is Coming To Town, Please Do Not Support Circus Animal Abuse!

Most of us grew up looking forward to the circus coming to town.  The anticipation of the ring master leading in acts of performers, clowns and animals under the big top.  The magical feeling of watching aerial trapeze artists virtually float through the air, packs of clowns zipping around the tent, honking their horns and making us laugh, eating your snacks while seeing enormous elephants doing tricks like the ones we teach our own dogs.  As good as this may sound to you and your little ones there are a few alarming things you should know before purchasing your tickets to the circus again.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus paints a picture of happy animals performing tricks because they like doing them. Consider the following, then decide whether that’s true. Here are some of Ringling’s frequent claims juxtaposed with the facts about the circus’s treatment of animals:

Our training methods are based on continual interaction with our animals, touch and words of praise, and food rewards.
Video footage taken between 2001 and 2006 of Ringling trainers and handlers shows that elephants were aggressively hooked, lame elephants were forced to perform and travel, and a trainer inflicted a bloody bullhook wound behind an elephant’s ear flap. Former Ringling employees that left the circus in 2006 and 2007 describe violent beatings as well as the routine abuse of elephants, horses, camels, and zebras.

The ankus (bullhook) is used as an extension of the handler’s arm to guide the elephants.
The bullhook, by design, is intended to cause pain and puncture the skin. Despite its appearance, an elephant’s skin is as sensitive as humans’ skin. The sharp metal hook on the end of the bullhook bruises, punctures, and tears elephants’ skin easily and often. Former Ringling animal crew employees report that the circus keeps a bag of topsoil handy to cover up bloody bullhook wounds on elephants.

Ringling is a leading expert in the care of Asian elephants. Our staff is dedicated to meeting our animals’ physical and behavioral needs.
Ringling’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection reports are riddled with serious citations of problems that directly impact animal welfare. In 2006 alone, the circus was cited three times for failure to provide adequate veterinary care to a disabled elephant, to an elephant with a large swelling on her rear leg, and to a camel with bloody wounds. Also in 2006, Ringling was cited for causing trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm, and discomfort to two young elephants who sustained cuts and abrasions when they ran amok in an arena in Puerto Rico; improper handling of dangerous animals; and an enclosure in disrepair.

Ringling has never been adjudged to have violated the Animal Welfare Act.
Ringling attempts to confuse the issue with legal terminology. The USDA refers to a citation on an inspection report as a “noncompliance” rather than a “violation.” Each citation by the USDA is an indication that federal inspectors found that Ringling Bros. is failing to comply with the minimum requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.

In addition to being cited on inspection reports, Ringling has also been warned by the USDA for causing trauma and stress to two baby elephants who suffered painful rope lesions when they were prematurely pulled from their mothers and for improper euthanasia after a caged tiger was shot to death. Ringling also paid a $20,000 penalty to settle USDA charges of failing to provide veterinary care to a sick baby elephant who died shortly after he was forced to perform.

All circuses are subject to stringent animal welfare regulations at the local, state, and federal level.
No agency monitors training sessions, in which animals may be beaten behind the scenes. Most state and local agencies defer to the already overburdened USDA for matters concerning exotic animals in circuses. The federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) has no regulations that specifically pertain to elephants. For example, space requirements for animals ranging from elephants to zebras simply state, “Enclosures shall … provide sufficient space to allow each animal to make normal postural and social adjustments.” Ringling consistently opposes proposed laws that would ban cruel training methods, such as bullhooks and the chaining of elephants. Although inspections by the USDA are supposed to be unannounced, several former Ringling employees claim that the circus always knows in advance when inspectors are coming.

Our staff are experts in their fields.
Staff caring for animals in circuses may have little experience or formal training, increasing the potential for improper handling. Ringling regularly hires inexperienced people, some directly out of homeless shelters, and allows them to work with animals.

Ringling is attempting to save endangered Asian elephants from extinction.
Ringling breeds elephants solely to perform in its circus. None of Ringling’s elephants can ever be released to the wild. Of the approximately 62 elephants owned by Ringling in 1990, 57 were captured in the wild. And at least 24 elephants have died since 1992. Ringling has not been successful in breeding more elephants than it has captured and imported for use in its traveling show, and its elephants are dying at a faster rate than they are breeding. Ringling routinely pulls unweaned elephants from their mothers to train them and put them on the road.

The animal routines in our circus showcase our animals’ natural behaviors.
In nature, elephants don’t stand on their heads, walk trunk-to-tail, skip, crawl, or twirl, and adult female elephants do not mount one another. Tigers don’t hop on their hind legs and roll over in unison. In order to force wild animals to perform difficult and confusing circus tricks, trainers use whips, sticks, and bullhooks.

The public display of exotic and endangered animals contributes to a heightened awareness of humans’ responsibility to safeguard and protect these animals.
According to David Hancocks, former director of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, “When [circuses] portray animals as freaks and curiosities, devoid of context or dignity, circuses are perpetuating outdated attitudes. Wild animals in the circus are reduced to mere caricatures of their kind, exhibited just for financial gain. In this way, they corrupt our children, promoting the notion that exploitation and degradation is acceptable, even brave or funny.”

We operate a 200-acre state-of-the-art facility dedicated to breeding, research, and retirement of Asian elephants.
The elephants at Ringling’s breeding compound in Florida only have access to a fraction of the property. When they are not chained, the elephants are confined to barns and small, barren outdoor paddocks. Ringling’s Williston, Fla., facility—also referred to as its retirement center—has several elephants who are infected with or exposed to a human strain of tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB). In September 2006, two male elephants at its breeding center also tested positive for TB and three female elephants were pulled off the road because they had been exposed to diseased elephants.

Our elephant care practices are in line with those set out in the “Elephant Husbandry Resource Guide” published by the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) with the support of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the Elephant Managers Association (EMA).
As a founding board member of the IEF, Ringling helped develop the “Elephant Husbandry Resource Guide.” Ringling may have felt a need to develop this guide because the circus does not comply with the existing AZA Standards for Elephant Management and Care. Ringling does not provide its elephants on the road with AZA’s minimum space requirements, and the elephants are subjected to prolonged chaining.

Ringling Bros. elephants are healthy, thriving, vigorous, and content.
The USDA has noted on Ringling inspection reports that some of the circus’s elephants suffer from lameness, foot abscesses, and arthritis. At least eight of the 24 elephant deaths at Ringling since 1992 were attributable to either osteoarthritis or a chronic foot problem—a common problem in captive elephants caused by lack of space and forced inactivity. In a book titled The Elephant’s Foot, former Ringling veterinarian Gary West contributed a chapter about foot care. West wrote, “Foot-related conditions and arthritis are the leading cause of euthanasia in captive elephants in the United States.”

What can you do to help?  It’s as easy as not supporting animal abuse!  No ticket sales = No Abuse!

28 Comments to “The Circus Is Coming To Town, Please Do Not Support Animal Abuse!”

  1. [nich] Says:

    I didn’t finish my readings. It just I feel sick to imagine a large act of animal abuse is taking place and being tolerated ..

  2. Martha A. Cheves Says:

    I HATE the circus! I would rather see an animal in the zoo doing a little bit more of what they are supposed to do than to see them doing tricks that I’m sure they have been abused to learn. I have 3 grown children and took them to the circus once and refused to ever take them again. To me animals are the most perfect creatures on earth. My dog is the best friend I’ve ever had and ever will. Thank you for this site. I hope others will visit and gain the knowledge of what is really being done to these beautiful arts of life.

  3. Vote for this article at Says:

    The Circus Is Coming To Town, Please Do Not Support Circus Animal Abuse!

    Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus paints a picture of happy animals performing tricks because they like doing them. Consider the following, then decide whether that’s true. Here are some of Ringling’s frequent claims juxtaposed with the fac…

  4. Jonathan Hunt Says:

    I’ve always beeen appauled at the way circus animals are kept and treated. With pride I can admit to having never once been, or wanted to go, to a circus.

    Thank you for an informative, if upsetting, read

  5. Cozykittens Says:

    i like the circus but i hate to think how unhappy those animals are..

  6. Vasanthi Says:

    It’s really critical training for animal. Warning the circus.



  7. Maria Says:

    Hi there.
    Come pick up your awards for your cool blog here:

  8. Kelly Says:

    I stopped liking the circus when I was about 12 when I started to think of how mean it was to keep animals like elephants caged up and forcing them to do tricks.

    About 4 years ago I went again, the first time since I was a kid, because my sister wanted to take my niece. I almost cried because one of the elephants looked so sad and in pain. It’s eyes looked sad and in pain. It looked like it had been crying. It was limping and looked very old. It broke my heart and I vowed to never go again.

    It’s just cruel. Whether they beat them or not, it is cruel to keep them caged up like that and doing tricks. They are not animals that are meant to do that. Dogs, ok. Horses running in a circle, not so unusual. Elephants standing on their hind legs, not so normal.


  9. Tim Reynolds Says:

    Nice post. Thank you for the info. Keep it up.

  10. Business Entrepreneur Says:

    Great content! I just came across your blog and actually read your posts! I wish you would post more often. It is hard to find good informative blog like yours! Thanks for the information. – Versa

  11. Dog Waste Says:

    I really love circus until i read this post…I never thought they treat the animals like that…total abuse…From now on I will not support circus anymore and I will share this matter to my entire family as well…

  12. Dog Accessories Says:

    This post might have well changed my view of the circus forever. I guess I was just ignorant to the abuse. It is really sad to think about how those animals are treated.

    I wonder how many other sources of entertainment I enjoy at the expense of others?

    Good Post

  13. Sweet Links | Sweet Fuzz Says:

    […] Animals Need Help-eye opener about animal abuse in circuses. […]

  14. Elena Maslova Says:

    This ” famous” circus coming to Miami. My daughter in private International Christian School. They have field trip to this damn show. Four sure she is not going. It make me sick just to see this show on youtube.
    Please give me advise what will be the best to do to stop whole school. Talk to director-is just too little. I’m going do it anyway. Can you give me link to Miami animal supporters please. Thank you. Elena

  15. margaret garrett Says:

    I am an active member in Peta & The Human Society and a practicing vegan. My children came home today from school with “free tickets” for the circus and were so exicited at the thought that “this wonderful show under the big top” was coming to our small town until I pulled this and other sites online to show them what actualy takes place at the circus. I think it’s a shame that people have made millions for decades off of lies and animal cruelty. I will not allow my 3 boys to have blood on thier hands! Not in my house ! Not in Meridian MS !

  16. jennifer TOBON Says:

    I hate the circus, just thinking about animal abuse those poor elephants and animals I love animals a lot and I hate seen them abused so please don’t support the circus please do it for those poor animals we love them…

  17. Vikki Allen Says:

    Even as a child I cringed in embarrasment for the poor animals in the Boswell – Wilkie circus being forced to perform against their wishes. The best circus I have ever seen and been enthralled with was one with not one single animal act, just acrobats, clowns and a mind-blowing spectacle of human showmanship. Lets rather support shows like Circ de Solei and watch the wonder of animals in their natural environment captured on camera by sensitive and respected wildlife photographers.

  18. jon w Says:

    the circus is so mean i hate the circus
    anyway ive always beem afraid of clowns

  19. Designermöbel Says:

    As child I loved the circus, but when you grow older and you can see what the animals have to go through for the show…. it is not worth the short entertainment you get.

  20. Roberta Says:

    I just had a revelation: that if a group of different small business owners could come in and actually offer these “trainers” a better job-“for more money” as a plan somehow they would drop cruel means to earn a living and go with the better offer instead.

  21. Roberta Says:

    Another thought: if their were enough better job alternatives these people would do that instead. Their has to be some way “out of the box” to stop this, am I missing something or on to something? Hasn’t enough institutinalized animal cruelty happend for God to allow?

  22. Bountiful Utah Says:

    Sad. I wish people would show more dignity than this. When the circus was in Utah a couple years ago me and my kids went and I was shocked by some of the brutality – you could see how confused and scared the elephants were. I promised myself never to go again after that.

  23. Jill Randle Says:

    I do not support the circus. I would rather see all aninals in a beautiful
    sanctuary where they can live their lives in peace….and I would want
    people who truly care for all animals to care for them….so no, elephants
    should not be in any circus…no animal should!

  24. Summer E. Says:

    Thank the Lord that this blog is on the net for the world to see. Now maybe more and more people will see this and boycott all animal circuses and maybe, just maybe all animal circuses will be prohibited. But that just might be wishful thinking

  25. Vesna Says:

    Circus is something we need to STOP. That’s animal abuse.

  26. TUOLI Polstermöbel Says:

    i am shocked and i ask why do we also do these things with animals?????

  27. zakiya brisco Says:

    wow i never know any of this i will never in my life go to another circus this is horrible how could they do such a thing only a heartless person could do such a thing

    thank you for the information

  28. you Says:

    Zoos also abuse thier animals and keep- them in tiny enclosures whether they want to give them more space or not Martha A. Cheves

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