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Ringling Bros. Circus federal elephant abuse trial UPDATE

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, February 11th, 2009 at 11:58 am in Abuse, Circus, Elephants, Ringling Bros..

Video by YouTube user AnimalWelfareOnline used under Creative Commons license.

I’ve arranged to get regular updates on the Ringling Bros. Circus federal elephant abuse trial in Washington, DC. /Gary

From the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington, DC:

MONDAY (Feb. 9):
Today, Pat Cuviello testified regarding his 20 years of observing and monitoring the Ringling Bros. circus. Mr. Cuviello described how the elephants are hooked, hit and jabbed with bullhooks, and stated that the younger ones are hooked “a lot more.” He went on to say that in addition to bullhooks, he has seen Ringling Bros. handlers use brooms and pliers on the elephants.

Mr. Cuviello also described how the elephants are chained and how many of them rock back and forth when chained. Several clips of video footage taken by Mr. Cuviello showing bullhook use and chaining of the elephants were introduced into evidence. These exhibits will be available Tuesday (Feb. 10) at

It is expected that two expert witnesses, Dr. Benjamin Hart and Dr. Ros Clubb, will take the stand Tuesday (Feb. 10) and testify regarding elephant behavior. A variety of exhibits are expected to be introduced including photographs and video footage of a court ordered inspection of the Center for Elephant Conservation and an additional inspection of Ringling Bros. elephants in Michigan.

TUESDAY (Feb. 10):
This morning, Judge Sullivan ruled that certain items could not be posted on the plaintiffs’ web sites. While it’s not completely clear yet what is permissive for posting, he did specifically indicate that he does not want the transcripts posted.

Dr. Benjamin Hart was the only expert called to the stand today. He testified that because elephants have the largest brains of any land mammals and since they are hard wired to move around a lot, it is especially harmful for them to be confined to chains as they are at the Ringling Bros. circus.

He noted that poor welfare can be demonstrated by the continuous rocking back and forth of the elephants. He also testified that elephants feel pain like any other animals.

Dr. Ros Clubb who was expected to testify today, will testify Wednesday (Feb. 11).
Tracy Silverman, General Counsel, Animal Welfare Institute

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No Responses to “Ringling Bros. Circus federal elephant abuse trial UPDATE”

  1. Alyne Fortgang Says:

    Can you please put me on your e-mail list to receive your daily updates on the Ringling trial?

    THANKS so much, Alyne Fortgang, Co-founder Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants. 206-595-7770

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