Animal Rights Collective Blog


Ringling Demo Schedule 2015 by christine

Ringling Bros. Demonstration Schedule for George Mason University

Please join us to protest animal abuse at GMU!

For many years, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus has come to the Patriot Center every spring semester bringing along several species of enslaved animals, including: elephants, llamas, rabbits, tigers, dogs, zebras, horses, and goats. Circus animals spend their entire lives either confined to cages or in chains, traveling eleven months of the year through weather conditions considerably different from their native habitats. In order for animals to perform circus tricks, they are beaten with metal bullhooks, shocked with electrical devices, tied down with ropes, and whipped.

Circus animals are caged, routinely beaten to incentivize their performance of tricks, and suffer both mentally and physically during their captivity. Their performances do not educate children about animals. Rather, it sends a message that animal abuse and dominion is acceptable. As an alternative to Ringling Bros., please support shows with talented, consenting performers; such as Cirque du Soleil and other acts that do not exploit animals.

Ringling Bros. Beats Elephants

Photo of Ringling Bros. trainers abusing a baby elephant by using ropes and bullhooks to force her to preform tricks (image originally published in The Washington Post).

These nonhuman animals are either stolen from their native ecosystems, or they are bred in captivity and removed from their mothers before their first birthday. Despite public relations campaigns that falsely advertise “conservation efforts,” Ringling Bros. has never released a captive-bred animal into the wild. Beyond physical maltreatment, circus animals are deprived of the freedom to roam, access to environmental stimuli, and the ability to engage in instinctual behaviors such as social interaction. In 2011, as a result of dozens of violations under the USDA’s Animal Welfare Act, Ringling’s parent company was ordered to pay the largest settlement against an animal exhibitor, totaling $270,000.

Please join us and lend your  voice to these animals!

Where:
The Patriot Center at George Mason University
4400 University Dr. | Fairfax, Virginia
Meet on Po River Ln., facing “Will-Call”
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Demonstration Schedule:

Wednesday, April 8:  9:00-10:00pm Vigil
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Thursday, April 9:  9:00-10:00pm Vigil
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Friday, April 10:  9:30-10:30pm Vigil
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Saturday, April 11:  5:30-8:30pm Vigil/Protest
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Sunday, April 12:  3:00-6:00pm Vigil/Protest
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Thursday, April 16:  9:00pm Vigil
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Friday, April 17:   9:30pm Vigil
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Saturday, April 18:  1:30-4:30pm
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Sunday, April 19:  3:00-6:00pm

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Details:

All signs and leaflets will be provided. Email nooneisproperty@gmail.com for more information, especially for weather-related changes. These protests are organized by a small collective of individuals, not a major organization. We only do legal protests. If you are uncomfortable at any time, please see Lisa.

For a “vigil,” we hold signs, and candles, offer leaflets, but do not say much unless asked questions. For a “vigil/protest” we start with a vigil for the show letting out and transition to a protest for the next show. For a “protest” we hold signs, hand-out leaflets, and engage in speak-outs and some chanting (you will be given a chant sheet).



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.



Ringling Bros. Circus Protest Outreach by christine

Not in Our Name! Ringling Circus Protest Outreach

Last Saturday, ARC rockers Gabby and Wynne used their creativity to help fight for the animals by painting this cube outside of Southside dining on the GMU Fairfax campus. Ah-mazing work, thanks liberantionistas!

Animals belong in their native habitats, not in the circus!

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 wild habitats, 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.

These animals are caged, routinely beaten to incentivize their performance of tricks, and suffer both mentally and physically during their captivity in the circus. Their performances do not educate children about animals. Rather, it sends a message that animal abuse and dominion is acceptable.

FACTS:

– Ringling was cited in 2010 by the USDA for failure to maintain proper vet care and failure to control animals
– 55 of Ringling’s 63 elephants were poached from the wild
– Ringling boasts 27 elephant DEATHS since 1992!

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Please come and lend your voice to these animals!

Each protest will be about one hour long, signs and leaflets provided. Meet at the West entrance of the Patriot Center.

** PROTEST SCHEDULE (ROUND 1) **
Thurs, April 14 – 6pm / Vigil 9pm
Fri, April 15 – 6:30pm / Vigil 9:30pm
Sat, April 16 – 10:30am, 2:30pm, 6:30pm / Vigil 9:30pm
Sun, April 17 – Noon, 4pm / Vigil 7pm

** PROTEST SCHEDULE (ROUND 2) **
Tues, April 19 – Vigil 9pm
Wed, April 20 – Vigil 9pm
Fri, April 22 – 6:30pm / Vigil 9:30pm
Sat, April 23 – 10:30am, 2:30pm, 6:30pm / Vigil 9:30pm
Sun, April 24 – Noon, 4pm / Vigil 7pm



Ringling Elephants Pose Health Risk by christine
April 12, 2011, 7:01 pm
Filed under: AR News, Local Events | Tags:

TB in elephants called ‘a gray area’

Animal-rights group says elephant with positive TB test is a danger, but circus and government health officials say there is no risk

Elephants participate in the annual pachyderm parade marking the arrival of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to Baltimore March 28. Karen the elephant recently tested positive for tuberculosis, but a follow-up test was negative. (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun / March 28, 2011)

By Laura Vozzella, The Baltimore Sun

7:59 p.m. EDT, April 6, 2011

An animal-rights group contends that an elephant performing in Baltimore with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus poses a health risk to the public because she has tested positive fortuberculosis, but circus and government health officials say the animal is no threat because she does not have an active form of the infectious disease.

Karen, a 42-year-old Asian elephant, tested positive for TB in a blood test but negative in a follow-up test known as a trunk wash, which involves taking a culture of saline solution run through the animal’s trunk.

The positive blood test was enough to get Karen barred from entering Tennessee with the rest of the circus back in December. But it appears that health officials in that state, where TB was transmitted from another elephant to nine employees at a refuge in 2009, were taking a stricter stance than required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which calls for quarantining elephantsonly if they have an active case of TB.

Elephant-to-human transmission of TB is a very new field of study — that it occurs at all was only officially established in 2009 by aCenters for Disease Control and Prevention study, prompted by the outbreak at the Tennessee refuge — and experts are still trying to determine the best way to deal with the problem, said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and one of the authors of the CDC study.

“This is a large gray area,” Schaffner said, borrowing a line from one of his co-authors, Rendi Murphree, an epidemic intelligence service officer at the CDC and a visiting scholar at Vanderbilt. The USDA is holding a meeting in Kansas City this very week to discuss the matter.

“Could an elephant have a positive MAPIA [blood] test and a negative trunk wash and still be infectious? Is that possible?” Schaffner said. “That’s where the current scientific discussion lies. How reliable is a negative trunk wash test? That is a legitimate area of discussion. There are people that say every elephant with a positive MAPIA should be held back under infection control precautions — quarantined, if you will — and treated. Others say it’s not necessary.”

Even given all the unknowns, Schaffner thinks that there is little risk of a spectator at the circus becoming infected from an elephant.

“If you’re at a circus, you’re at a great distance from the elephants,” he said. “You do not have genuinely prolonged contact with them. You’re there for two hours of the show. That sort of exposure should not put people at risk.”

He added: “I would let my grandchildren attend.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals discovered late last week that Karen had a positive TB blood test and had been barred from Tennessee, in documents it obtained through a government Freedom of Information request, said Delcianna Winders, the group’s director of captive animal law enforcement. Winders said she forwarded the information to Baltimore animal control officials Monday and that someone there initially told her the city would bar the circus from using Karen. Later, Winders said, the city reversed course and said the animal could perform.

The animal-rights group sent an email to The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday morning headlined: “PETA Applauds City of Baltimore for Pulling Ailing Ringling Elephant From Performances.” A few hours later came a follow-up from PETA: “TB-Infected Elephant Put Back Into Circus Ring — Humans Put at Risk.”

City officials said that there was no about-face and that they reached their conclusion after consulting with appropriate state and federal experts.

“There are established USDA standards by which the potential disease risk is assessed, and this particular case does not meet these standards,” the city Health Department said in a prepared statement.  “The decision to allow Karen the elephant to perform at First Mariner Arena in Baltimore City was based on careful consideration of many factors, including veterinary evaluation of the elephant’s health records.  Based on all the information obtained, and in consultation with DHMH, MD Department of Agriculture and the US Dept of Agriculture, Baltimore City HD has determined that Karen the elephant can participate in scheduled performances in Baltimore.”

laura.vozzella@baltsun.com

 



Baby Ringling Elephant Has Deadly Virus, Pulled from Lineup by christine

Ringling Bros. Is Endangering Baby Elephants

by Laura Goldman · February 26, 2011, for Change.org

Ringling Bros. training a baby elephant with bullhooks and ropes

Barack, the first Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephant conceived via artificial insemination, was born to Bonnie, also a circus performer, the night before Inauguration Day in 2009. He was named after the new president. Like his namesake, the last couple of years have been rocky for the elephant.

In February 2010, at barely a year old and the youngest elephant in the circus, Barack was pulled from the performing lineup. He had become infected with the deadly elephant herpes virus (endotheliotropic herpesvirus or EEHV) that has killed several young Asian elephants in U.S. zoos over the past 30 years, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The elephants are usually 7 years of age or younger, and unless treated, they can die within a week after they start showing symptoms of the virus, such as swelling of their heads and necks, their tongues turning blue, and lethargy. Some elephants survive after being given famciclovir, an anti–herpes drug, but the mortality rate is still a staggering 85 percent.

Barack was the second of the circus’ elephants to contract the virus. The first was his father, who survived. Circus officials told the Orlando Sentinel that the two cases were unrelated.

Like his father, Barack survived, and returned to performing last July. But a few weeks ago, exactly a year after he first contracted the virus, Ringling Bros. reported that Barack has become infected yet again.

While there is no cure for the disease, one of the principal causes is a weakened immune system due to factors such as stress. In his young life, Barack has been subjected to the rigors of training, performing and constantly being transported from one town to the next – none of which are natural for an elephant.

Back when Barack was born at Ringling Bros.’ Center for Elephant Conservation (sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?), the circus released a statement by Kenneth Feld, the center’s founder.

“The reality is that the worldwide elephant population is declining, which means the overall mortality rate is increasing and that is a heart-breaking fact,” Feld said. “That is why, at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, practical solutions that help to care for and to save these magnificent animals are critical.”

If Barack survives, the only practical solution to save this magnificent animal is to retire him to a sanctuary so he doesn’t become sick again and add to that increasing mortality rate.

In Defense of Animals, an international animal protection organization, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, charging that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is endangering baby elephants. No elephant, particularly a very sick one, should have to endure the stress of performing.

Sign the petition telling the USDA to intervene with the circus and save the lives of Barack and all performing elephant calves.



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”



GMU Police Trample First Amendment Rights by christine

George Mason University police violated the First Amendment rights of protesters during the Ringling Brothers Circus demonstrations. The protesters were Mason students, as well as members of the local community.

Before the Ringling Brothers protests last week, several metal barricades were erected by the GMU police. The barricades severely restricted both our movement and our message. The barricades prevented animal rights leafletters from distributing informative pamphlets and ultimately restricted their message and actions. As of this evening, additional barricades further hindered our ability to distribute information.

The erection of the barricades was ridiculous considering our nonviolent and lawful actions. Their placement was meant to demonize us and it demonstrates bias against animal rights protesters.

Our goal during the demonstrations was to educate patrons about the animal abuse that occurs in circuses. We also encouraged circus patrons not to endorse animal circuses in the future.

If obstructing traffic was our goal, then we would have engaged in different tactics. We would not be leafleting and holding signs; but instead, chaining ourselves to the Patriot Center entrances.

We were lawful during these protests and there was no reason for the GMU police to violate our First Amendment rights.

From This:

Protesters clearly NOT blocking traffic.

To This:

Same area (West Entrance), shot facing left instead of right.

This isn’t the first time…

9/29/05 – “We are writing to inform you of a serious violation of civil liberties and blatant racism that occurred on campus today. Tariq Khan, a Pakistani-American student at George Mason, was assaulted and detained by the George Mason police. His crime? Standing 4 feet from the U.S. Marine recruiting table with an 8×11 piece of paper reading, “RECRUITERS TELL LIES” held by tape to his shirt. Tariq, an Air Force veteran, was exercising his right to express his opinion that military recruiters have no business being on a college campus. He was harassed by members of the ROTC – one of whom, a self-described Iraqi war veteran, stated that he couldn’t wait to go back to Iraq to kill more Iraqis.”