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2006 Circus Wrap-Up

Published 12/31/06
Source: Animal Issues, Volume 37 Number 4, Winter 2006

Another circus season has come to a close, but this does not mean that the elephants and other animals get a break. The time they have off from the road will be spent learning new tricks for the 2007 season. For the elephants, this means they will be forced to learn the new routine through force and intimidation at the hand of a bullhook.

Elephants used in circuses spend most of their time in boxcars or chains, in lives far different from the ones nature intended. And unlike the human performers who choose to work in circuses, elephants are forced to take part in the show.

Throughout 2006, API and our circus activists have followed the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus across the country, sharing our “Lifetime of Misery” campaign. As the show rolled out into the various cities across the country, we were there to highlight the real-life behind-the-scenes experiences of animals in the circus.

Our “Lifetime of Misery” campaign stopped in many cities across the country. The activist tools with which we greeted the circus varied with the city, but they included a static billboard, our mobile billboard (both bore the same message: “Would you chain your dog for most of her life? Why pay Ringling to do it to Elephants?”), radio public service announcements, printed advertisements, peaceful protests, and press events.

API greeted the circus in these cities:

  • Tampa, Florida
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Stockton, California
  • Sacramento, California
  • St. Louis, Missouri

One of API’s biggest circus events during 2006 was in St. Louis, Missouri. Our trip to St. Louis would not have been possible without the generous support of Carol House Furniture and its owners, the Dubman family. Their Corporate Sponsorship allowed us to purchase valuable advertising space in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and 32 of the Suburban Journals, secure our mobile and static billboards, and run our PSAs on two local St. Louis radio stations. This type of generous support is always needed at API — not to mention greatly appreciated! If you would like more information on how your business can become an API Corporate Sponsor or Corporate Partner, call our development office today at 800-348-7387 x202.

We also held a press conference in St. Louis dispelling the myth that a bullhook, standard tool of the trade to break and beat elephants, is not akin to a leash on a dog as Ringling Bros. states. However, if an owner of a dog were to hit their animal with the bullhook in the same manner Ringling Bros. does to its elephants, then that owner would be charged with violating the state anti-animal cruelty statute. On hand at the event were several dogs, their guardian, and an actual bullhook. In addition, API was there to protest the circus on opening night despite the freezing rain and wind.

A special thanks to the St. Louis Animal Rights Team (START) who organized the protest and attended the press event.

Through these and other tools, API got the message out to thousands of people about how animals are doomed to a life of misery, and urged people to think twice before buying a ticket to support such an abusive industry.

Get Active

API can only get our message out about the cruelties behind the big top with the assistance and dedication of advocates who are part of API’s Circus Activist Network. Each year more and more people join. In fact, our Network has doubled in size since we last reported to you.

With more activists, we are better able than ever to educate circus patrons that animal cruelty is never entertaining. We extend a gigantic thank you to all of our Circus Activist Network members.

These are just a few of the highlights of how API’s Circus Activist Network has spoken out to help animals:

  • Our activists protested at every major circus that uses animals. Circuses protested include Ringling Bros., Shrine Circus, Circus Gatti, Carson and Barnes, and the Cole Brothers Circus.
  • Our activists distributed more than 25,000 educational flyers to circusgoers across the country in 2006 alone.
  • Our activists assisted other activists in placing billboards and advertisements that educate the public that the circus is no place for animals.
  • Our activists wrote letters to state houses across the country urging lawmakers to prohibit cruel training devices such as the bullhook and chains.

If you are not already a member of our Circus Activist Network, join today, so you can help present a unified, compassionate front the next time the circus rolls into town. Join online or call us at 1-800-348-7387 x204.

Don’t forget to order your circus materials early for 2007 circus season.

Sign the Petition

Please join us in telling Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey to put a stop to animal cruelty and to cease using wild and exotic animals in its circuses by signing and returning our petition at www.api4animals.org/petitions/002_circus.php.

Lawsuit Update

Last year we announced that API was joining a one of a kind lawsuit against Ringling Bros. for violations of the Endangered Species Act in its mistreatment of Asian elephants . The lawsuit alleges that a number of routine practices by Ringling Bros. violate the Endangered Species Act, including forceful use of bullhooks, chaining of the elephants for most of the day and night, and forcible removal of baby elephants from their mothers.

We are joined in this lawsuit with American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and the Fund for Animals, along with a former Ringling Bros. employee, against the circus for its alleged mistreatment of Asian elephants.

We are currently in the discovery phase of lawsuit. As a result of this case we have amassed an arsenal of evidence that supports our allegations that Ringling Bros. mistreats it elephants.

This case is expected to go to trial by the end of 2007.

Legislation

API is leading the charge on the legislative front and during the various states’ 2007 legislative sessions will introduce legislation which seeks to prohibit the use of any implement that may reasonably result in harm to an elephant, including but not limited to the damage, scarring, or breakage of an elephant’s skin. Such implement or device includes but is not limited to a bullhook, ankus, or other similar device. In addition, the legislation will prohibit the use of chains or similar devices to restrain an elephant.

We will reintroduce these bills in California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. If you live in one of these states and are interested in helping, please contact legislation@bornfreeusa.org or 1-800-348-7387 x214.

API can keep you informed of pending legislative issues through our website, emailed Action Alerts, and newsletters. We’ll let you know how to contact your elected officials about critical legislation, what to say in Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper, or how to attend key hearings where legislation is being considered. If you do not already receive emailed alerts from us, then please join our team. It’s easy! Just sign up in the “Get Our Newsletters” box.

Even Busier

As you can see, 2006 was a busy year and 2007 will be even busier. We will continue our nationwide “Lifetime of Misery” campaign, but we need your help. Your tax-deductible donation to API helps support important programs such as our continuing circus campaign. You can donate online here, or by calling API at 1-800-348-7387.

API will not rest until the cruel use of animals in circuses is banished, once and for all.

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