Animal Rights Collective Blog


Ringling Protests: Check Us Out in Broadside This Week! by christine

Standing Up for Animal Rights

By Monika Joshi / Copy Chief

Protestors hand out pamphlets alleging circus animal abuse Thursday. (Photo by Monika Joshi)

Protestors hand out pamphlets alleging circus animal abuse Thursday. (Photo by Monika Joshi)

The return of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to George Mason University has drawn protests from about 20 animal rights activists, including members of the university’s Animal Rights Collective.

“Pictures don’t lie!” shouted one protestor at Thursday’s demonstration, pointing to a poster of a roped elephant’s legs being pulled in opposite directions by trainers.

The photograph, as well as video footage of elephant and tiger abuse shown later that night, were captured by animal rights organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who say that Ringling Bros. animals are regularly beaten, chained and neglected.

Through the protests, scheduled to coincide with circus performances throughout the week, ARC aims to educate people on the mistreatment of animals in circuses.

The group was officially recognized as a student organization in 2009 and has been leading anti-circus protests every year since.

“Most circus patrons are receptive to our message, and I believe many will reconsider supporting the Ringling Bros.’ cruelty the next time,” said ARC member Jason Von Kundra.

The student group plans to deliver a petition with over 2,000 signatures to the university before the end of the semester, asking that the circus be banned from Mason.

“We are asking that our administration do the right thing by banning animal circuses from campus,” said Von Kundra, a junior earth science major. “We hope to send a strong message that abusing animals is not entertainment and that the Ringling’s ‘Cruelest Show on Earth’ has no place at Mason.”

Barry Geisler, general manager of the Patriot Center, said he sees no reason why the circus should not be allowed on campus, given that it garners high community interest and financial return for the university.

“We’re going to get more people in this week and a half than we get for an entire basketball season,” said Geisler. “So there’s obviously strong community support for the event.”

According to Geisler, the circus animals were inspected by Fairfax County Animal Control on Tuesday and no action was required.

“No one’s ever found any alleged abuse,” Geisler said. “There’s never been any abuse. They get inspected every single year.”

The protestors, however, contend that there is no way to train animals to perform circus tricks without inflicting pain and punishment.

Christine Kauffman, a Mason alumna who helped found ARC, also questioned the value of the inspections conducted at the university.

“Obviously the handlers aren’t going to beat an animal in front of an animal control officer,” she said. “They’re going to do it when no one is watching.”

Following the last performance of each night, protestors hold a candlelight vigil to honor the circus animals.

“[People] may forget about us when they go in,” said ARC member and senior history major Anthony Murray. “But when they leave, it’s the last image they see.”

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Plus, this additional anti-Ringling piece in the Opinion section:

Cruelest show on earth returns

By Justin Lalputan / Opinion Editor

As some of you may already know, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is back at George Mason University. It is advertised as the “Greatest Show on Earth,” however, one thing that it doesn’t advertise is the accusations of animal cruelty that groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals constantly make.

Let me start by saying that I’m not some hippie environmentalist who thinks that we should scrap all our technology and return to being one with Mother Earth.

That’s not me at all. What does bother me, however, is when people abuse animals for purposes of mere entertainment.

That makes me feel sick.

According to PETA, Ringling teaches their animals to do tricks by beating them and putting them through abusive, torturous training.

Elephants are trained to do their tricks through the use of instruments called bullhooks, training tools that, according to PETA, “look like fire pokers.”

One manner in which they train baby elephants is by forcing them into unusual positions (such as forcing them to stand on their high legs on a platform), hitting them all over their bodies with the aforementioned bullhook and then using electric prods.

The impact on the animal’s well-being is intense, and it is not unusual for animals to die or become injured by this type of mistreatment.

Speaking of deaths, in 2004, a lion died of heatstroke as Ringling Bros. crossed the Mojave Desert, and they euthanized an 8-month-old baby elephant which fractured its hind legs doing a stunt that trainers forced it to do.
Since 2000, the United States Department of Agriculture has cited Ringling Bros. for violations including improper handling of dangerous animals, unsanitary feeding practices and causing trauma and physical harm to two elephants.

Obviously information from PETA must always be taken with a grain of salt, but the information from the USDA tells no lies: Ringling Bros. have a history of mistreating its animals.

But what really gets me mad is not only are the Ringling Bros. mistreating animals, they are doing it here at Mason.

Aren’t we the school whose goal is to be environmentally friendly? Aren’t we the ones who generate almost no trash at Southside so that we can protect nature?

Doesn’t it seem a tad bit hypocritical that we are so pro-environment, yet we are directly supporting people who routinely harm animals that live on the same Earth that we are trying to protect?

The sad thing is most people don’t even care.

They don’t care about any of the deaths that I mentioned or the countless more that have occurred. Instead, all they want to do is be entertained.

Fine. They can do whatever they want. But I will not be supporting this circus in any way, shape or form.

They treat animals horribly, and despite this fact, people still go watch their shows and support them.

I’m not asking people to change their lifestyle or become an animal rights activist; I’m asking them to see that the practices of Ringling Bros. are just plain wrong and we should be working for change.

You can say that the circus is coming to Mason, but to me, it feels more like the house of horrors.



In Broadside: Circus Protesters & GMU Police Injustice by christine
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Mon, 04/05/2010 – 12:49 | Broadside News Editor Yasmin Tadjdeh

Circus protesters claim GMU police injustice: Participants inhibited by barricades and police tape

Over the last two weeks, protesters have gathered around the Patriot Center to rally against the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for alleged animal cruelty of their circus animals. However, according to some protesters, George Mason University police have been unfairly targeting them and inhibiting their protests.

Through police barricades and caution tape, protesters claim that the Mason police force has been infringing on their right to protest by keeping them away from the public.

“This year when we arrived on campus, there were metal barricades put in place at the top of the steps that lead down from the corner of Roanoke Road and Po River Lane,” said Lisa Qualls, a protester at the event and a volunteer with the local Washington, D.C. based animal’s rights group, Compassion 4 Animals. “Last year, that had been our main protest spot.”

“We were told that the barricades were placed there because, in the past, children were looking over [their] shoulders at us and could have fallen down the steps,” said Qualls.

“The next time we came back, we were told we had to stay outside of the barricades,” said Qualls.“This made it very difficult to leaflet and it created not just a physical barricade, but a psychological one, too. It gives the illusion that we need to be controlled and that we are not approachable. We have never blocked anyone or been threatening. This barricade seems to be a deliberate attempt to suppress our rights.”

Other protesters at the event felt similarly.

“Throughout the demonstrations, the GMU police erected metal barricades whose aim was to enclose circus protesters,” said Nicholas Zinzer, a protester who was issued a trespassing warning on March 27. “Several protesters went behind the metal barricades and were nearly impotent when attempting to disseminate literature and hold visible signs.”

“I was issued a trespass warning at 10 p.m. that day and it will stand for at least one year,” said Zinzer. “The trespass warning is not justified. I was both peaceful and lawful throughout the protests. The GMU police were both aggressive and partial.”

According to Zinzer, he and a group of activists were preparing to leave the Patriot Center after protesting the circus when several Mason police officers approached them. After surrounding Zinzer, Zinzer said he was detained by Lt. Kevin Barrett and issued a trespass warning; he was then escorted off campus.

However, according to Mason police, the trespass warning was warranted.

“We have a designated area for protests, and he [Zinzer] was not cooperative with those directions,” said Deputy Police Chief George Ginovsky. “He didn’t comply with the directions and he was issued a trespass warning. He was escorted from campus without further incident.”

However, Ginovsky said, “If he feels he was mistreated, he needs to make a complaint and we will thoroughly investigate.”

04/21/2008 – Past Article: “Circus Protestors Protest Police Behavior”



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)
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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, gmu.edu/org/arc, 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, RinglingBeatsAnimals.com, 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 RinglingBrosTrialInfo.com, 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.



Liberation Week Reportback by christine

The Animal Rights Collective invited peta2 to campus to display their Liberation Project, a series of visual panels that look back to the justifications that have been used to exploit humans in the past and how the same excuses are being used to exploit animals today. This display reminds us that “might does not make right.”

We had an overwhelmingly positive response as we handed out thousands of flyers and pieces of literature, shared and listened to some amazing stories, and debunked myths. The week finished off with a screening of “Liberation” and “Meet Your Meat,” which a group of dedicated and inspiring people attended – refusing to turn away from the exploitation that so many people can’t face and yet force animals to endure 24/7 because of the choices they make.

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls,

everyone would be vegetarian.”

– Paul McCartney

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The Liberation Project on the JC North Plaza

Line & Adrianne

peta2 Liberationistas Collecting Signatures

Ringling Beats Elephants

Animal Liberation by the Clocktower

Vegan Cooking CLass

The week started off with a Vegan Cooking Class, which taught students how to make simple and cruelty-free dishes in their microwave. Here a student is mixing up microwavable chocolate cake. The recipes were from peta2’s “Vegan College Cookbook,” click here for some sample recipes.

Thanks to everyone that stopped by, helped out, and took our literature!

Read About it in Broadside

Listen to it on Connect2Mason

If you missed it, visit the Animal Liberation Project interactive gallery online.

If you missed the viewing of “Liberation” and “Meet Your Meat,” watch them here:

Student Group On Campus Unites Forces with PETA: New Organization Promotes Animal Rights

Tue, 10/06/2009 – 14:33

By Brenda Shepard, Broadside Correspondent

The Animal Rights Collective organization will be holding Animal Liberation Week, today through Thursday, Oct. 8. Students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to engage in conversation and educate themselves about animal rights, animal abuse and the choice to live a vegan lifestyle.

ARC, in conjunction with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, will be showing a series of visual displays, entitled the Animal Liberation Project. The exhibit looks back through a history of human slavery, showing the juxstaposition of the justifications for animal cruelty today. The exhibit will be on the North Plaza of the Johnson Center on Oct. 7 at 11 a.m.

“It’s so ingrained in our culture to eat meat,” said senior conservation biology and global affairs major Christine Kauffman. “Animals can feel and suffer just like humans do. Now we have the means to end their suffering because of us.”

The ARC is in its first semester as a recognized group on campus, but has spent many years protesting the circus at George Mason University.

Organizers of the event said that after seeing PETA’s display on the National Mall this summer, the group contacted PETA, who was receptive and excited to include Mason on its college tour of the exhibit. PETA will have representatives on campus this week to answer questions and educate people who are interested in getting involved with their cause.

Other than the visual display, other campus events associated with Animal Liberation Week will include a vegan cooking class today based on PETA’s “Vegan College Cookbook,” as well as a film screening of Liberation, in Student Union Building II on Thursday Oct. 8.

When asked why students should come and see the The Animal Liberation Project, junior biology major Jen Beidel said, “You have to educate yourself. [Animal] abuse comes from people who aren’t educated. You can tell somebody all day, but they have to want to change themselves.”

Other activities that ARC has planned for their premier semester include making bird feeders to create space for wildlife that has been displaced by construction, a Halloween vegan bake sale and a screening of the film Earthlings, according to the organization’s website.

“It’s time to start living up to our values and stop making excuses. It’s in the entertainment we watch and even the clothes we wear. Images and videos are a lot harder to forget,” said Kauffman.

All events during Animal Liberation Week are free and open to the public. ARC has weekly meetings on Tuesdays from 8 to 10 p.m. in Student Union Building I. For more information, visit https://animalrightscollective.wordpress.com/.