Animal Rights Collective Blog

The Washington Post Exposes Ringling Bros. Circus by christine

On Wednesday, the Washington Post wrote an exposé on the cruelties under the big top at the Ringling Bros. Circus.

Please contact David Montgomery to thank him for writing the article: The Post receives a lot of money from Ringling, so cheers to them for thinking of animals before their pockets.

Full Photo Gallery of the Undercover Investigation

Petition: Demand Justice for Baby Elephants

Washington Post Article:

PETA, Ringling Bros. at Odds Over Treatment of Baby Circus Elephants

By David Montgomery

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sammy Haddock started working with elephants when he joined the circus at 20, in 1976, a young man’s dream. He walked them, groomed them, cleaned up after them. More than once, he later confessed, he beat them.

Over time, his feelings about elephants grew more tender, especially toward the babies. In 1997 he was hired to work as a handler at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Center for Elephant Conservation, an ambitious program in Florida to breed and preserve endangered Asian elephants. Part of Haddock’s job was to help train elephant calves to be circus performers.

He was deeply affected when 8-month-old Riccardo collapsed with leg injuries after tumbling off a tub during pre-training in 2004. Riccardo had to be euthanized. Haddock also began to see things from the point of view of his wife, Millie, an animal lover.

Nearly two years ago, Millie lay dying of complications from diabetes. Sammy had retired from the circus in 2005 to care for her. She asked him for a promise.

“My wife never liked what the elephants went through at the circus, especially the baby elephants, or that I was a part of it,” Haddock said recently in a written declaration. “Before she died, she told me, ‘Sammy, I know you’ll do the right thing.’ ”

Now Haddock’s dramatic interpretation of doing “the right thing” is being unleashed — from the grave. He died early last month in Clermont, Fla., at 53, of liver failure. He left behind scores of pictures and a written recollection of his workplace. They offer a compelling glimpse into the treatment of baby circus elephants. It veers from the image propagated by the industry — of little creatures contentedly acquiring nimble new moves in return for carrots and grapes.

Dead men do tell tales.

But what about pictures? Do pictures speak for themselves?

The point of bullhooks

Last spring, Samuel Dewitt Haddock Jr. brought his story and his snapshots to Debbie Leahy, director of captive animals rescue and enforcement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA and Ringling are old and bitter adversaries. PETA wants the animal acts shut down. Ringling has accused PETA of distorting its record of animal husbandry.

Haddock was a hard-bitten country boy, 5-foot-10 and lean, a real character. He was an unusual whistle-blower for PETA. He was a meat eater and a dove hunter. He didn’t go undercover and secretly snap images on a spy camera. He was just a guy taking pictures at work.

In a 15-page notarized declaration, dated Aug. 28, before he took sick, Haddock describes how, in his experience at Ringling’s conservation center, elephant calves were forcibly separated from their mothers. How up to four handlers at a time tugged hard on ropes to make babies lie down, sit up, stand on two legs, salute, do headstands. All the public’s favorite tricks.

His photos show young elephants trussed in ropes as bullhooks are pressed to their skin. A bullhook is about the length of a riding crop. The business end is made of steel and has two tips, one hooked and one coming to a blunt nub.

An elephant trainer is rarely without a bullhook. The tool is also standard in many zoos, including the National Zoo. In recent years, for public consumption, elephant handlers have taken to calling them “guides.”

Click “more” for the remainder of the article

Continue reading

Meeting Notes: Plans for Spring Semester 2010 by christine
December 17, 2009, 10:11 pm
Filed under: ARC Events, Meeting Notes

* ARC will continue to meet weekly, look for the schedule survey to be sent out December 18th. We will focus more on discussing animal rights theory, sporadically reading supporting documents, and educating about the problems with factory farming.

* Major Campaigns: Protesting Ringling Bros. Circus, establishing a Student Choice Policy at GMU so that students can opt out of dissection, increasing vegan and vegetarian food options on campus, and as always, spreading awareness about animal rights issues. See tentative schedule of events for details.

* Increasing vegan options of campus: email me if you have suggestions and I will pass them along to dining services. What do you want to see – vegan ice cream, vegan cheese pizza? Also, you can always stuff the “Suggestion Box” at Southside with demands for vegan options.

* Compassion for Animals would like to host their Pay-Per-View of “Meet Your Meat” at GMU once a month!

* ARC will continue to work with The Communes, hosting potlucks and other community-building events. Details have yet to be worked out, but perhaps we can aim for once monthly events – at a minimum.

* We’ve been approved to stock free Vegetarian Starter Kits (magazine format) in the JC wooden newspaper bins where the City Paper and Express are distributed.

* Outreach: kiosking, leafleting, tabling, film screenings, feed-ins, class raps, petitions, Broadside articles and letters to the editor

* Film screenings, vegan bake sales, and other community-building events


* Ringling Bros. Circus Protest Campaign

Last year the local animal rights community and GMU students protested EVERY Ringling show, we will do that again this coming semester. In order for us to get Ringling kicked off of our campus, we need to show widespread support for these magnificent animals that Ringling brutalizes daily! They are denied all natural instincts and the elephants show the telltale signs of insanity such as head-bobbing and rocking. Ringling has no right to hold these animals against their will, defile their rights to exist without suffering, and force them to perform cruel tricks with the force of a bullhook. They travel 11 months out of the year, in climates that are very different from those they are native to. Their month of rest is no sanctuary either, the animals are still confined to small cages and this is the most intensive time of their training. When there is no one watching, Ringling trainers can do whatever they want to these animals to achieve their means, they often take out their frustration on the animals in cruel and unusual ways. Unfortunately, many Ringling employees are also ex-cons or pedophiles because a job that entails traveling 11 months out of the year is not one that many people wish to pursue.

If you would like to see undercover footage of Ringling training for yourself, visit the “Videos and Documentaries” section of our blog. Also, visit for more information about animal circuses. Continue reading

Fairfax County VA Allows Deer Bow Hunting as Management Technique by christine

ISSUE: Fairfax County, the largest, most prosperous County in northern Virginia (which borders Washington , D.C.), plans to turn its public parks into canned hunts for bow hunting beginning November 14th. After sneaking plans past public scrutiny, the Park Authority plans to initiate bow hunting in Colvin Run Park, and expand it to other Fairfax County Parks.

“Bow hunting is exceedingly cruel. Many deer who are shot are merely wounded by arrows. Bow hunters routinely spend hours tracking the blood trails of deer struck by arrows before finding them. Three decades of research tells us that for every one or two animals struck by arrows and retrieved by bow hunters, another wounded animal disappears, never to be found. And mass killings tear apart families, leaving young and weak animals vulnerable to starvation, dehydration, and predators. Also, lethal methods of wildlife control don’t reduce the population in the long run. As long as the areas of concern remain attractive and accessible to these animals, more will move in from surrounding areas to fill the newly vacant niche. In addition, killing individuals can result in a spike in the food supply and prompt remaining does to breed, causing the population to increase.” – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Non-lethal control methods could include immuno-contraception administered via darting.

Friends of Animals Condemns Fairfax County’s Actions Against White-Tailed Deer

For Immediate Release: 07 December 2009

Fairfax, VA — Local representatives for Friends of Animals, an advocacy organization founded in 1957, will be speaking at a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting today in opposition to the bowhunting of white-tailed deer at Colvin Run and Laurel Hill. County officials have contracted with a volunteer bowhunting group in an attempt to control the deer populations.

“Does our tendency to spread into suburban areas give us a right to kill, control or otherwise dominate wildlife,” questioned Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals. “Have the deer turned Fairfax County into strip malls, parking lots and interstate pavements? Have the deer procreated beyond nature’s ability to sustain them? No, we’re attacking other animals with no genuine reason or logic.”

With only a two-day notice, 270 residents in Colvin Run were notified that park officials had scheduled a bowhunt in their area. The public outcry has been swift. County officials have attempted to reassure its residents that the bowhunters are well-trained, however, because the county is using volunteer archers, many locals are understandably wary.

Bowhunting is not humane or particularly effective. In fact, bowhunters admit they routinely strike deer but do not kill them [1]. It can take days for wounded deer to be recovered, if they are recovered at all. Oftentimes, the animals are still alive once found. When a wounded deer escapes, the animal is left with a painful injury, one which may lead to a serious infection. In addition, residents are also in danger, as vehicle-to-deer accidents increase during these culls.

Added Feral, “Bowhunting is a repulsive, violent assault on animals who should be let alone. A deeper question is whether we should be in control of the deer population at all. Whether by amateurs or even expert archers, the deer pay simply because humans encroach on land needed by free-living animals.”

The Colvin Run hunt, which began 14 November, is expected to continue through 16 January. The Laurel Hill hunt began on 30 November and is expected to continue until 30 January.


What You Can Do

ACTION: Please call or email both Sharon Bulova and John Dargle, Jr. immediately. Please mention that you and your friends, family members and children enjoy the parks and do not want to be exposed to the horrors of bow hunting (see more talking points below the list of additional officials).

Sharon Bulova, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

Email: ( | Tel: 703-324-2321

John Dargle, Jr., Director of Fairfax County Park Authority ( | Tel: 703-324-8702

Petition: Urge Virginia Officials to End Cruel Bow Hunt

EXTRA HELP: If you want to go the extra mile to help the deer and our surrounding population, please call or email one or two, or all of the officials listed below.  (All email addresses end in )

Fairfax County Executive, Anthony Griffin, (703) 324-2536

Supervisor John Foust (703) 356-0551(Dranesville District)

Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (703) 478-0283 (Hunter Mill District)

Supervisor Michael Frey (703) 814-7100 (Sully District)

Supervisor Linda Smyth (703) 560-6946(Providence District)

Supervisor Jeff McKay (703) 971-6262 (Lee District)

Supervisor Penelope Gross (703) 256-7717 (Mason District)

Supervisor Gerald Hyland (703) 780-7518 (Mount Vernon District)

Supervisor John Cook (703) 425-9300 (Braddock District)

Supervisor Pat Herrity (703) 451-8873 (Springfield District)

TALKING POINTS: Please be polite and use these talking points in your call or email:

  • Bow hunting is dangerous and unpredictable; visitors to the parks and residents of the surrounding area can be injured by this brutal activity.
  • Even the “best” bow hunters almost never kill the deer immediately.  The hunter waits 45 minutes to an hour for the deer to run, bleed out and become exhausted. Then, the hunter attempts to follow the blood trail to find the deer and finish killing it, often in front of children and visitors to the park.
  • It exposes children and impressionable adults to extraordinary animal cruelty and teaches them that killing animals is OK – mental health officials and the FBI consider cruelty to animals a precursor to more violent crimes against humans who are perceived as vulnerable; is that the lesson we want our children to learn?
  • Bow “hunters” are often inexperienced and have a high rate of injuring, rather than killing deer, leaving them to die a slow, agonizing death; many deer can be seen fleeing with arrows piercing their limbs and organs.
  • There is no way to know how far the deer will run, if she will die, what injury will occur, if she will die over weeks, or run into backyards and roads, and die a painful death.
  • It causes a public safety hazard: panic-stricken animals often flee their pursuers, running into roads causing car accidents.
  • It serves no purpose; the deer return in subsequent years to breed and multiply; nature abhors a vacuum
  • It makes Fairfax County and the metropolitan Washington , D.C. area look cruel, barbaric and primitive to the rest of the world.
  • This is not rural park area; this is within densely populated, urban land.

Pay-Per-View Reportback by christine
December 7, 2009, 2:52 am
Filed under: ARC Events, Local Events, Video | Tags: , ,

Compassion for Animals and the Animal Rights Collective hosted two Pay-Per-View sessions at GMU this semester. Students earned $1 to view a four minute segment of “Meet Your Meat.” Thanks to Holly and Gary of CfA for bringing this incredible project to our campus!

Fur Free Friday Reportback by christine

A coalition of animal rights groups brought together protestors from all over the east coast to encourage companies and consumers to go fur-free on buy nothing day. The fur industry is particularly heinous, with animals living their lives in intense confinement that leads to insanity before they are often skinned alive. Solely for the name of fashion. Don’t be a fur hag, go fur-free. And educate others about these atrocities.

Protestors at Saks Jandel, Friendship Heights.

Protestors at Dior were accosted by Police. Always protecting property, not First Amendment rights or animals.

Video Still: Protester Accosted by Police

See Why Wearing Fur is Fucked Up for more information.