The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Circus, May Not be Able to Show

The circus is back in Las Vegas. The Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey Circus arrived Tuesday night for their annual visit, but this year is different. The circus is awaiting a decision by a federal judge about whether it can continue to use endangered elephants in its act.

Animal welfare groups have alleged for many years that what Ringling Brothers does is inherently cruel to elephants. Now, they're waiting to see if a federal judge agrees with them. They hope this is the end of the line for more than a century of animal cruelty. The Ringling folks are just as confident that the show will go on.

Read the court documents

"We're trying our best to make sure these endangered species are around for future generations," said Ringling animal handler Ryan Henning.

As the Ringling rail cars were unloaded Tuesday evening, 12 hours before their scheduled arrival, Henning expressed the same sentiments his employer has emphasized in recent years -- mainly, how well circus elephants are treated and how much the big pachyderms enjoy living out of boxcars.

"They enjoy it. They travel very comfortably. I would say they travel better than the people in the show. They've got it made," he said.

"I don't know how you can have a traveling elephant, 11 months out of the year stationed on a train, have their feet being chained, and have their feet be okay. It's impossible," said animal activist Linda Faso.

Faso has helped organize protests against every circus to hit Las Vegas for the last two decades and has another one scheduled for Thursday night outside the Orleans Arena, where the Ringling performances will be held.

Faso has long argued it is inherently cruel to endangered Asian elephants to force them into the life of a traveling carny, and the proof is in their feet.

Some of the most pointed testimony to emerge in a six week federal trial focused on the feet of Ringling elephants. Nearly all of the animals have foot problems to one degree or another, not only because they spend most of their lives in chains, either in rail cars or on asphalt parking lots like the Orleans, but also because elephants simply aren't built to perform the kind of tricks they are taught for the circus.

Former Ringling elephant handler Tom Rider was one of the star witnesses in the federal trial. He told the court there is only one way to get large, intelligent creatures to don funny outfits and perform amusing tricks, and that's thru the use of pain and fear, as manifested in the use of the infamous bullhook. Ringling has compared the bullhook to a leash for dogs, but video captured around the country shows otherwise.

Circus owner Kenneth Feld of Las Vegas even admitted as much during the trial. ""What came out of the trial was a lot of evidence, like when Kenneth Feld said ‘I've seen all my handlers strike the elephants.' They hadn't admitted that in years," said Rider.

The federal trial ended in March. The judge could decide that Ringling can no longer put elephants on the road and in the show. Even if the circus prevails in the case, the groups that sued believe they've already made an impact.

At the Las Vegas unloading, the traditional bullhooks were nowhere to be seen, replaced instead by smaller, less menacing devices. It's not enough, animal groups say. "I would assume that in various cities there are a lot more people watching now, so they are being more careful, and it's just behind the scenes. I'm sure the elephants are being chained still, in boxcars which the general public doesn't get to see," said Nicole Paquett, attorney for Born Free USA.

Paquett says the federal judge has scheduled more oral arguments to be held in July, so a decision won't happen until after those sessions. But can Ringling carry on without its elephants? The animal welfare folks say yes and they point to the success of Cirque De Soleil as an example."



  1. Anonymous10:45 AM

    IF you want to make a change for the animals used in the circus, write to your elected officials, tell them this is inhumane and cruel, and you want animal abuse and neglect to stop. I did, and I will keep doing it until I see change
    There are also several petitions going around at Ida, Care2, Peta, etc. It only takes a couple of minutes, and your signature and opinion do count.

  2. Thank You anonymous for your information for everyone to read.

    I also sign all petitions and write to my officials. I belong to Care2 and the Humane Society.

    Good for you for being persistent, that's what it's going to take, unfortunately the public is not at the point yet where they want to give up circuses all together. Though in my opinion, I'd rather see an all person circus with real talented people then have to cry over the animals that I know are being mistreated and don't belong there.

  3. Oh, I am so curious about this circus now! I just bought tickets to it from Ticket Luck. They offered me a code CAROL, which helped me save the extra money from being spent, and I was happy about it! But now, I am just worried about the fact what will happen in this circus! Hope it doesn't turn out to be a disaster!

  4. Dear Ringling Bros Tickets;
    Perhaps it's not to late to get your money back.