Animal Rights Collective Blog


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.

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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.