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.



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!

When:

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

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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

Where:

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.

Why:

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:

Circuses.com

HelpElephants.com




Judge Allows Ringling Bros. to Continue to Abuse Elephants by christine

This past year has exposed many truths about the horrible conditions and cruelties that circus animals endure for the lavish demands of entertainment. From the newly released photos of baby elephants being abused with bulhooks, electric prods, ropes and chains, to the footage of Ringling trainers striking elephants that was exposed as part of an undercover investigation by PETA just last summer. Apparently, Judge Sullivan refuses to listen.

Pardo states that “this ruling represents a victory for the elephants,” a completely surreal and twisted testimony to her ignorance.

Ask the USDA to end the use of bullhooks and chains here.

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Judge rules for Ringling Bros. in elephant case

The Associated Press

Wednesday, December 30, 2009; 10:14 PM

WASHINGTON — A federal judge Wednesday ruled in favor of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in a case brought by animal rights activists who accused the circus of abusing elephants.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan said former Ringling employee Tom Rider and the Animal Protection Institute did not have legal standing to sue the circus, owned by Feld Entertainment Inc. Rider and the animal protection group brought the lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act.

During the six-week trial in February and March of this year, the attorney for the animal rights groups asked the judge to stop the circus from harming the elephants during performances and punishing them for bad behavior. They alleged that the use of bullhooks and prolonged chaining violated the federal law.

Feld Entertainment argued that the animals are not hurt and that the instruments are necessary to keep the pachyderms under control and protect public safety.

At the time, the judge expressed some reluctance to police circus methods and asked how the prods and chains are different from spurs used on horses and whips with tigers.

Ringling Bros. said during the trial it cannot have the Asian elephants without these instruments because there is no other proven way to keep the animals under control and protect their trainers and the viewing public.

Feld’s attorneys said their elephants are healthy, alert and well-cared for, including those that travel with the show and those that live at the company’s 200-acre conservatory in Florida.

“This ruling represents a victory for the elephants and a win for the U.S. Constitution because it reinforces that the federal court is no place to entertain a philosophical debate about whether elephants should be in the circus,” said Michelle Pardo, an attorney representing Feld Entertainment.

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This is what a victory for elephants looks like?



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: montgomery@washpost.com. 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

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