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For Immediate Release: 07/06/07

"Would you like a side of animal abuse with that?"

Animal welfare groups “shocked” by recent partnership between Denny’s restaurants and embattled Ringling Bros. circus

Sacramento, CA — The Animal Protection Institute (API), a national non-profit animal advocacy group, today sent a letter to Denny’s Corporation CEO Nelson Marchiloi asking him to re-think Denny’s recent partnership with Ringling Bros. circus due to concerns about the welfare of animals in Ringling’s care.

API is a plaintiff, along with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, and Fund for Animals, in a federal lawsuit filed against Ringling Bros., for its mistreatment of endangered Asian elephants.

“Ringling Bros. claims it treats its animals like ‘cherished family members,’” says Nicole Paquette, Legal & Government Affairs Director for API. “If beatings with bullhooks, hours of chaining, forced breeding, and spending more than 11 months a year travelling are what it means to be cherished, then that’s not a family I can imagine anyone wanting to be a part of.”

“Children love Denny’s and children love animals,” says Paquette. “Perhaps what Denny’s hasn’t realized is that children don’t like hurting animals and when they find out what goes on behind the big top, they won’t like Denny’s either. I hope Denny’s takes the time to learn about this issue and makes an educated decision not to support the mistreatment of animals.”

For years Ringling has claimed its animals are treated like cherished family members, but its record of animal deaths and mistreatment tells a different story, from repeated videotaped incidents in which Ringling employees subjected animals to cruel treatment, to diversion settlements with the USDA when charged with animal welfare deficiencies.

“We believe Ringling increasingly depends on partnerships with companies like Denny’s because as people become more educated about the cruelty inherent in the circus, Ringling is having a harder time filling the seats,” adds Paquette. “In fact, in every city the circus visits, many tickets are given away for free.”

Ringling repeatedly touts its commitment to conserving Asian elephants via its Center for Elephant Conservation, which is nothing more than a forced breeding facility for circus elephants. Video taken of a birth there shows handlers repeatedly striking an elephant, who is tightly chained by two legs, on the head with a bullhook while she struggles to give birth to a baby. That baby, Riccardo, is now dead. Ringling fails to mention that 4 of the 19 elephants whose births it promotes are dead (a mortality rate of 21 percent) and that Ringling is currently the subject of a federal investigation into one of those deaths.

API is a national non-profit animal advocacy organization working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education. For more information, visit www.api4animals.org.

DVD b-roll of Ringling animal mistreatment and still photos of chained Ringling elephants are available upon request.

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute (API), 916-447-3085 x205

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