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Lawsuit says Ringling Bros. Circus keeps elephants in chains

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, May 22nd, 2008 at 6:50 am in Circus, Elephants, Endangered species, Ringling Bros..

Animal protection groups ask federal court to halt Ringling Bros.’ cruel chaining and confinement of endangered Asian elephants.

Washington, D.C. — Wednesday (May 21), a coalition of animal protection organizations and a former Ringling Bros. employee asked a federal district court in Washington D.C. to immediately order a halt to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (Ringling Bros.) cruel practice of shackling and confining endangered Asian elephants for days on end in a manner that prevents them from walking or even turning around in place.

According to a press release from the ASPCA in New York, newly obtained evidence based on the circus’s own documents reveals that Ringling Bros. keeps elephants virtually immobilized in chains for the majority of their lives. Internal records of the circus’s train travels show that the elephants are chained while confined in boxcars for an average of more than 26 hours at a time, and sometimes for as much as 60-100 hours without a break as the circus moves across the country.

“The evidence is simply shocking,” says Lisa Weisberg, senior vice president of Government Affairs and Public Policy of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). “The public should be outraged at the amount of time these animals are forced to be shackled and confined, and Ringling Bros. should be ashamed at hiding this cruelty from the public eye.”

“We hope that the Court will order Ringling Bros. to immediately unchain these incredibly intelligent and, social animals and spare them from suffering a lifetime of misery,” says Tracy Silverman, General Counsel for Animal Welfare Institute. “No animal should be chained for days at a time, week after week, month after month and year after year.”

The request for an immediate halt to prolonged chaining and confinement of elephants is part of a lawsuit by the ASPCA, the Animal Welfare Institute, The Fund for Animals, Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute, and former Ringling Bros. employee Tom Rider against Ringling Bros. Circus.

More information, reportedly from Ringling Bros. own files at:

Videos of elephant mistreatment:

In will be interesting to see where this newest lawsuit goes. Animal welfare groups have been fighting this battle with the circus for years. /Gary

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  1. Penelope Says:

    I no longer attend circuses except for cirque du soleil. I have my doubts about humane treatment by any organization that makes beautiful majestic creatures perform dumb tricks for our pleasure.

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