Opinion: Boycott Ringling Bros. Circus Circus Animals Routinely Abused, Neglected and Confined

Note: PAWS (Lynnwood, WA), Pasado's Safe Haven, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants (FOWPZE), a Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN) campaign, and the Sound Animal Rights Alliance (SARA) are joining animal welfare agencies in California to call for a public boycott of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. They cite the abusive and neglectful treatment of the circus animals and the inhumane living conditions they must endure. Ringling Bros. is scheduled to perform in Kent (September 1-5) and in Everett (September 8-11).

Washington State animal welfare groups agree that using animals to perform in circuses is an outdated and inhumane practice. Handlers routinely use tools such as whips, bullhooks and electric prods to force the animals to perform unnatural tricks and confine them in chains and cages when they are not on stage. Baby elephants are cruelly separated from their mothers for training in what the circus itself has referred to as "breaking" the baby elephant. Covert videos and photos have surfaced showing Ringling trainers brutally beating elephants with bullhooks and electric prods.

Transported in cattle cars or trucks in extremes of weather, Ringling's animals must keep a grueling schedule and perform even when they are exhausted or sick. The circus has often failed to provide appropriate veterinary care. Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited the circus for failing to treat an elephant named Sarah who had a serious infection. Sarah collapsed after she was forced to perform despite being ill. Severe neurotic behaviors caused by mistreatment and confinement are also ignored. Sadly, the circus presents this horrific animal suffering to our children as entertainment.

Anti-cruelty laws are often inadequate and poorly enforced for circus animals and so their suffering continues. We believe it is time for the public to send a clear message to Ringling Bros. Circus that the cruel exploitation of animals should end. Tigers don't jump through flaming hoops because they want to, nor do elephants pirouette like oversized ballerinas in nature. We urge the public to support cruelty-free entertainment instead, such as the Cirque du Soleil.

Sylvia Moss

Amber Chenoweth
Pasado's Safe Haven

Alyne Fortgang
Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants/NARN

Nancy Farnam
Sound Animal Rights Alliance (SARA)

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