Animal Rights Collective Blog

ARC in Broadside by christine

Protesters Rally Against Ringling Bros. Circus: Animal Rights Collective Organizes Demonstration

Mon, 03/29/2010 – 12:19 | Broadside News Editor Yasmin Tadjdeh

Mason’s Animal Rights Collective recently organized a demonstration against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, a performing group which annually visits the Patriot Center(Gabriella Farrugio)

For some studentsthe idea of a menagerie of animals coming to George Mason University is not one that settles well with them. Beginning this past Thursday, the Patriot Center hosted The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The circus, which performs annually at Mason, will be here until Sunday, April 4. However, its opening day was met with protests from various local animal rights groups, including Mason’s own Animals Rights Collective.

At the demonstration, protesters gave out literature against the circus and animal cruelty, carried signs that read “Ringling Beats Animals” and wore body television screens, which featured videos from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization.

Michael Dupuy, a junior systems engineering major and member of the ARC said, “By hosting the Ringling Circus, [Mason is] directly supporting animal cruelty.”

According to the ARC’s website,, they are “a group dedicated to raising awareness about animal rights on our campus and within the surrounding community. ARC was founded by a group of students that came together to protest the Ringling Brothers Circus on campus and to organize events pertaining to animal rights and vegan outreach . . . Our events will work to cease the suffering and exploitation of animals, and to create a greater sense of community on campus.”

Since 1992, at least 26 Ringling elephants have died, said Dupuy. “They keep their lions and tigers in enclosures that are much too small . . . Ringling brings bull hooks [to the campus], which is what they use to make the elephants perform.”

According to the website,, a website created by PETA, “Since 2000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Ringling numerous times for serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), such as . . . Improper handling of dangerous animals; Failure to provide adequate veterinary care to animals, including an elephant with a large swelling on her leg, a camel with bloody wounds and a camel injured on train tracks; Causing trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm and unnecessary discomfort to two elephants who sustained injuries when they ran amok during a performance; Endangering tigers who were nearly baked alive in a boxcar because of poor maintenance of their enclosures; Failure to test elephants for tuberculosis; Unsanitary feeding practices.”

According to a statement on, a website created by Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, on Dec. 30, 2009 a federal court case against Feld Entertainment by the ASPCA and other animal special interest groups that was filed more than nine years ago was dropped.

According to the website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment said, “‘We are gratified with today’s decision because it is a victory for elephants over those whose radical agenda, if adopted, could lead to the extinction of the species . . . We look forward to focusing on what we do best — providing quality care to our elephants and delivering unique family entertainment options to the public.’”

Dupuy said that in the future, he hopes that Mason would utilize circuses that did not contain animal acts, such as Cirque du Soleil, which is performed completely by humans.

Recent GMU Ringling Protest Media Coverage by christine
March 29, 2010, 10:11 am
Filed under: AR Alert, AR News, Local Events, Media, News

GMU Cops Harass Circus Protesters, Ban One Demonstrator

Reportback from Friday 6:30 Ringlings/GMU Protest

The Circus Makes A Lot of Cents

Rethinking Ringling Brothers and GMU: Five Myths by christine
March 29, 2010, 10:08 am
Filed under: AR Event, ARC Events, Campaign, Local Events, Protest, Use Your Voice!

An Injustice Anywhere is an Injustice Everywhere

Myth 1: “The Patriot Center cares about the circus”

The Patriot Center, owned by George Mason University and operated by Washington Sports and Entertainment LP, is interested in profit. Unlike several other GMU venues, such as the Center for the Arts and the Black Box theater, the Patriot Center has few obligations to GMU. Its primary obligation to the university is maximized return on investment.

The Patriot Center embraces Ringling Brothers because it generates millions of dollars in revenue and nearly as much in profit. The Patriot Center cares almost as much for Bob Dylan, who played at the Patriot Center in November 2009, as it does for Ringling Brothers. If the circus did not generate a lot of profit for both Washington Sports and Entertainment and GMU, its contract would not be renewed.

Myth 2: “Circus demonstrations are only about the animals”

This is an example of seeing the trees and missing the forest. While the primary concern and focus of circus protesters is, and should be, the use of non-human animals in the circus, protesters should also challenge corporate power.

George Mason University, Washington Sports and Entertainment, and Ringling Brothers, are all influential entities in the Washington Metropolitan area.

George Mason University is located in Fairfax, Virginia. Washington Sports and Entertainment is based in Washington, DC. Ringling Brothers is owned by Feld Entertainment, which is headquartered in nearby Vienna, Virginia. Their preferences, more often than not, supersede the preferences of individuals.

Unfortunately, all three entities hinder the rights of individuals and instead, embrace an exclusionary corporate model. If protesters are able to push particular boundaries, such as moving closer to the Patriot Center, challenging unjust police orders, and escalating protest tactics, they will set precedent for future demonstrations as well as for individuals who seek to challenge corporate power on campus.

Universities should be progressive. There is nothing progressive about animal abuse and ignoring concerns of both students and community members. Money talks and Ringling Brothers contributes more to the general revenue fund at GMU than protesters and their supporters.

Myth 3: “In 2009, the GMU Police were fair”

Relative to prior demonstrations, the GMU Police in 2009 were less intrusive and more cautious in their treatment of circus protesters. However, several GMU Police officers, including Lt. Kevin Barrett, were seen throughout the first three days of the 2009 demonstrations coordinating with Patriot Center employees and alleviating concerns of the Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC) staff members. The CSC is the company hired for crowd control. It appeared that GMU Lt. Barrett did not want to offend the CSC staff. He also comforted a CSC staff member who was visibly upset.

Everyday of the protests, John F. Besanko, the Assistant General Manager of the Patriot Center, spent much of his time with Lt. Barrett. While this is not an indication of wrongdoing, Lt. Barrett followed Besanko around the Patriot Center and appeared to take orders from him. In contrast, this is misconduct.

On April 11, 2009, a protester was assaulted by a circus patron. The patron hit the protester with her purse without provocation and the protester did not respond. Lt. Barrett did a cursory investigation of the female patron yet threatened to arrest the protester on bogus charges.

Myth 4: “Minimizing contact with the police is rude”

Asserting individual rights is not rude as it upholds Constitutionally protected rights. Ignoring police officers, even when they are asking questions that may seem harmless, is not rude. For example, if an officer asks when you will return to protest, it is okay to ignore the officer and not acknowledge he or she spoke. The officer is attempting to obtain intelligence on your actions and/or your group’s actions.

The only situation when speaking with an officer may be beneficial is when it is unclear if you are being detained. If you suspect you are being detained, ask the officer, “am I being detained?” If the answer is no, then leave. If you are being detained, you are legally obligated to stay with the officer (although you do not have to speak).

Myth 5: “Distributing leaflets and holding signs will stop the circus”

Although animal rights activists moved closer to the Patriot Center in recent years, distributing literature and holding signs will not stop the circus. Ringling Brothers will stop using the Patriot Center, and other facilities, when the social cost of patrons is raised to uncomfortable levels. In turn, their profit will shrink.

Anti-war demonstrators are often effective when they publicly display graphic images of mutilated bodies blown apart by weapons. Supporters of war and occupation, as well as individuals who are indifferent, often find it difficult to view these images. The net effect is often beneficial to the protester and his or her cause.

Broadcasting videos of animals being abused, using loud bullhorns, and publicly displaying graphic pictures of injured or dead circus animals, can be effective.

This should be targeted at rational individuals. For example, children should be shown intense images but not harassed or followed. If a parent or patron is receptive, try something mild. If a parent or patron is indifferent, drastically raise the social cost of attending the circus to the point where it becomes extremely uncomfortable to be present.

Ringling Brothers Demonstration Schedule for George Mason University by christine

*** Please forward widely ***

Ringling Brothers Demonstration Schedule for George Mason University

This is the protest schedule for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey shows at the George Mason University Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. Each protest will be at least one hour long. Signs and leaflets will be provided. Please come and lend your voice to these animals!


Thursday, March 25 – 6:00 pm

Friday, March 26 – 6:30 pm, Vigil 9:30 pm

Saturday, March 27 – 10:30 am, 2:30 pm, 6:30 pm, Vigil 9:30 pm

Sunday, March 28 – 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, Vigil 7:00 pm


Friday, April 2 – 6:30 pm, Vigil 9:30 pm

Saturday, April 3 – 10:30 am, 2:30 pm, 6:30 pm, Vigil 9:30 pm

Sunday, April 4 – 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, Vigil 7:00 pm


Meet at the corner of Braddock Road and Roanoke River Road in Fairfax, Va. We will then move to the west entrance of the Patriot Center.

Public Transportation:

Take the Metro Orange Line to Vienna/Fairfax. Then take the CUE Bus (Gold 1, 2 or Green 1, 2) to GMU. Once you arrive at GMU, walk south to the west entrance of the Patriot Center. In other words, once you arrive at the bus stop at GMU, follow Patriot Circle until you find the west entrance to the Patriot Center. You will reach the Patriot Center regardless of the direction you travel on Patriot Circle. The protest will at the west entrance of the Patriot Center. If you are early, we might be at the intersection of Braddock Road and Roanoke River Road. That area is south and near the west entrance of the Patriot Center.

George Mason University is located at 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.


Animals belong in their native habitats, not in the circus. Numerous circuses use animals such as elephants, tigers, horses, and zebras. These animals are caged, routinely beaten to incentivize their performance of tricks, and suffer both mentally and physically during their captivity in the circus. The only reason animals are used in circuses is for profit. Their captivity does not educate children about animals. Rather, it sends a message that animal abuse and captivity is acceptable.

In order for animals to perform circus tricks, they are beaten with metal bull hooks, shocked with electrical devices, tied down with ropes, and whipped. They are either stolen from their natural habitat in the wild, or they are bred in captivity and removed from their mothers before their first birthday.

These animals spend their lives in chains and travel eleven months of the year, through weather conditions considerably different from their native habitats. The remaining month is spent in a facility where the animals receive some of the most brutal training, out of the view of the public.

A lifetime spent on concrete or idling in tights cells, results in numerous physical and psychological ailments, such as osteoarthritis, tuberculosis, poor caging and housing conditions, and/or insanity. These health issues frequently lead to the premature deaths of the animals through euthanasia, long before they would have reached their natural lifespan.

Visit our Circus page for more information about the wrongs or captivity and cruelty for entertainment.

Ignore the Truth No Longer:

Watch these videos and learn more about the standard practices Ringling employs to force animals to preform tricks for the entertainment of humans.

Keep Us Free

More Information:

Great American Meatout by christine
March 20, 2010, 11:06 am
Filed under: AR Event, Local Events, Video | Tags: , ,

Join the Great American Meatout! Kick the meat habit (at least for a day!) and add some compassion to your diet. Do it for the animals, for the environment, for your health – do it today! By switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet you can save over 100 lives a year.

Check out our favorite recipes and vegan eatin’ on a budget sections for meat-free menu options!

The tortures animals in factory farms endure daily:

  • Chickens killed for their flesh in the United States are bred and drugged to grow so quickly that their hearts, lungs, and limbs often can’t keep up. Read more about chickens.
  • Hens used for eggs live six or seven to a battery cage the size of a file drawer, thousands of which are stacked tier upon tier in huge, filthy warehouses. Read more about laying hens.
  • Cattle are castrated, their horns are ripped out of their heads, and third-degree burns (branding) are inflicted on them, all without any pain relief.Read more about cows raised for their flesh.
  • Mother pigs on factory farms are confined to crates so small that they are unable to turn around or even lie down comfortably. Read more about pigs.Cows used for their milk are drugged and bred to produce unnatural amounts of milk; they have their babies stolen from them shortly after birth and sent to notoriously cruel veal farms so that humans can drink the calves’ milk. Read more about dairy cows.
  • Fish on aquafarms spend their entire lives in cramped, filthy enclosures, and many suffer from parasitic infections, diseases, and debilitating injuries. Conditions on some farms are so horrendous that 40 percent of the fish may die before farmers can kill and package them for food. Read more about fish.
  • Turkeys’ beaks and toes are burned off with a hot blade. Many suffer heart failure or debilitating leg pain, often becoming crippled under the weight of their genetically manipulated and drugged bodies. Read more about turkeys.

‘The Cove’ Wins Oscar for Best Documentary! by christine
March 14, 2010, 12:27 pm
Filed under: AR News, Video | Tags:

The Cove won the Oscar for Best Documentary for 2009!

Directed by National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyo, this documentary spotlights the shocking ritual herding and slaughter of thousands of bottlenose dolphins in the town of Taiji, Japan. The migrating dolphins are herded into a cover where they are netted and stabbed to death with spears so that their meat can be sold as food. A few are spared, in some sense, and sold off to aquariums to spend a dismal life in captivity preforming in water shows. The Cove follows former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry (“Flipper”) on his quest to uncover this brutal practice and bring it to the public’s attention.

ARC will be showing The Cove during our work party next Wednesday, from 6-10pm in Hanover Hall!

Real Environmentalists Don’t Eat Meat by christine

Last week the Washington Post ran two articles focusing on the devastating impacts that the meat industry has on our environment. Respect Mother Earth, go vegan!

According to the Washington Post:

Animal manure is one of the country’s biggest environmental problems. In the Chesapeake Bay, it surpasses all of the region’s sewer plants combined as the source of nitrogen and phosphorus, two pollutants that cause low-oxygen “dead zones.”

Manure becomes pollutant as its volume grows unmanageable

By David A. Fahrenthold

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, March 1, 2010; A01

Nearly 40 years after the first Earth Day, this is irony: The United States has reduced the manmade pollutants that left its waterways dead, discolored and occasionally flammable.

But now, it has managed to smother the same waters with the most natural stuff in the world.

Animal manure, a byproduct as old as agriculture, has become an unlikely modern pollution problem, scientists and environmentalists say. The country simply has more dung than it can handle: Crowded together at a new breed of megafarms, livestock produce three times as much waste as people, more than can be recycled as fertilizer for nearby fields.

That excess manure gives off air pollutants, and it is the country’s fastest-growing large source of methane, a greenhouse gas.

And it washes down with the rain, helping to cause the 230 oxygen-deprived “dead zones” that have proliferated along the U.S. coast. In the Chesapeake Bay, about one-fourth of the pollution that leads to dead zones can be traced to the back ends of cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys.

Despite its impact, manure has not been as strictly regulated as more familiar pollution problems, like human sewage, acid rain or industrial waste. The Obama administration has made moves to change that but already has found itself facing off with farm interests, entangled in the contentious politics of poop.

In recent months, Oklahoma has battled poultry companies from Arkansas in court, blaming their birds’ waste for slimy and deadened rivers downstream. In Florida, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed first-of-their-kind limits on pollutants found in manure.

In the Senate, Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) has proposed a bill that would allow farmers in the Chesapeake watershed to cut pollution more than required and sell the extra “credits” to other polluters. The EPA, in the middle of an overhaul for the failed Chesapeake cleanup, also has threatened to tighten rules on large farms.

“We now know that we have more nutrient pollution from animals in the Chesapeake Bay watershed” than from human sewage, said J. Charles Fox, the EPA’s new Chesapeake czar. “Nutrients” is the scientific word for the main pollutants found in manure, treated sewage, and runoff from fertilized lawns. They are the bay’s chief evil, feeding unnatural algae blooms that cause dead zones.

Around the country, agricultural interests have fought back against moves like these, saying that new rules on manure could mean crushing new costs for farmers.

“It’s clearly going to put a squeeze on people that they’ve always said they didn’t want to squeeze,” including family-run farms, said Don Parrish of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The story of manure is already a gloomy counterpoint to the triumphs in fighting pollution since the first Earth Day in 1970. An air pollutant that causes acid rain has been cut by 56 percent. By one measure, the output from sewage plants got 45 percent cleaner.

But, according to Cornell University researchers, the amount of one key pollutant — nitrogen — entering the environment in manure has increased by at least 60 percent since the 1970s.

“We’ve dealt with the kind of conventional pollutants,” that helped spark the first Earth Day, said Donald F. Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “Now, we see the things that are eating our lunch, if you will, are natural products . . . that are just overloading the system.”

The reasons for manure’s rise as a pollutant have to do, environmentalists say, with a shift in agriculture and a soft spot in the law.

In recent decades, livestock raising has shifted to a smaller number of large farms. At these places, with thousands of hogs or hundreds of thousands of chickens, the old self-contained cycle of farming — manure feeds the crops, then the crops feed the animals — is overwhelmed by the large amount of waste.

The result in farming-heavy places has been too much manure and too little to do with it. In the air, that extra manure can dry into dust, forming a “brown fog.” It can emit substances that contribute to climate change.

And it can give off a smell like a punch to the stomach.

“You have to cover your face just to go from the house to the car,” said Lynn Henning, 52, a farmer in rural Clayton, Mich., who said she became an environmental activist after fumes from huge new dairies gave her family headaches and burning sinuses. The way that modern megafarms produce it, Henning said, “Manure is no longer manure. Manure is a toxic waste now.”

In the water, the chemicals in manure don’t poison life, like pesticides or spilled oil. Instead, they create too much life, and the wrong kinds.

“You get Miracle-Gro for your water,” said David Guest, a lawyer for the group Earthjustice who has fought for tougher limits on pollution in Florida.

The chemicals in manure serve as fertilizer for unnatural algae blooms. They drain away oxygen as they decompose. Scientists say the number of suffocating dead zones — oxygen-depleted areas where even worms and clams climb out of the mud, desperate to respire — has grown from 16 in the 1950s to at least 230 today. The Chesapeake’s is usually the country’s third largest, after the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Erie.

The law, however, has treated manure and other agricultural pollutants differently than pollutants from smokestacks and sewer pipes.

The EPA does not set a hard cap on how much manure can wash off farms, instead issuing guidelines that apply only to the largest operations. There, the rules might limit how much manure farmers can spread on individual fields, for instance, or order them to plant grassy strips along riverbanks to filter manure-laden runoff. Even that level of regulation has only been in place since the 1990s.

But now, the EPA has signaled an intent to tighten its grip.

Last Monday, the agency announced that reducing manure-laden runoff was one of its six “national enforcement initiatives.” New rules went into effect in December that will impose even tighter restrictions on large farms.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture also considered a change to its guidelines, which would have limited the amount of manure farmers could apply to their fields. But then it scrapped that idea, saying the issue needed more study.

Last week on the Eastern Shore, where farmers raised 568 million chickens last year, the problem of excess manure was still big enough to see from the road.

“See how dark that one pile is? That’s chicken manure,” said Kathy Phillips, 61, an environmental activist who patrols the peninsula for piles of manure stored outdoors. As a steady rain fell, she said that pollutants were probably leaching off that mound — as tall as a van and the color of dark-roast coffee– and into ditch water that would eventually reach the Pocomoke River, then the Chesapeake.

Phillips usually surveys these piles from the air. She has a mental map of dozens of these off-smelling mounds.

“I don’t want to be the Poop Lady,” said Phillips, who got into environmentalism because she loved to surf Ocean City’s beaches. “But, you know, somebody had to talk about this. It’s like this dirty little secret.”

A few miles north, the poultry giant Perdue has come up with one way to dispose of excess manure. At a $13 million plant outside Seaford, Del., tons of poultry manure are dried, heated to kill off bacteria and compressed into pellets of organic fertilizer that is sold to golf courses or homeowners.

“This is sort of a reverse chicken,” said Perdue spokesman Luis Luna, as bulldozers moved manure below. “In a chicken, the food goes in and the poop goes out. Here, the poop comes in and the plant food goes out.”

That helps Chesapeake’s manure problem, but it isn’t the whole solution. Luna said there is enough manure on the Shore to keep more plants like this running– but Perdue isn’t planning to build more yet. So far, the fertilizer doesn’t sell well enough to make that cost-effective.

See article here.

Perdue, poultry farm sued for polluting Chesapeake Bay

By David A. Fahrenthold

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 2, 2010; 10:45 PM

Environmental activists filed suit Tuesday against the poultry giant Perdue Farms and an Eastern Shore farm where Perdue chickens are raised, contending that the farm is polluting the Chesapeake Bay with manure-laden runoff.

The suit, filed by the Assateague Coastal Trust, says that water flowing off the farm near Berlin, Md., carries high levels of bacteria, as well as pollutants blamed for the Chesapeake’s “dead zones.” Environmentalists said they think the farm’s owners store chicken manure in large outdoor piles near ditches, where it is likely to run off with the rain.

See full article here.


To learn more about how meat wastes land, water, food, rain forest, and energy resources, click here.