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For Immediate Release: 07/22/09

Hollywood star asks Californians to skip the circus

Embattled Ringling Bros. rolls into California, shackled by evidence of elephant abuse

Riverside, CA — The recent federal trial of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus (Ringling) revealed shocking evidence of routine mistreatment of elephants in the circus. As the circus prepares to open July 29 in Ontario, plaintiff Born Free USA and Hollywood star Corey Feldman are asking California residents to review the evidence before buying a ticket to Ringling Bros. circus engagements across the state.

“It’s amazing to me that beloved circus elephants are beaten with bullhooks and chained for the majority of their lives, yet people are still buying tickets,” said Corey Feldman, actor and animal advocate. “People need to act now to stop the abuse — simply by refusing to buy a ticket.”

“Ringling constantly compares its training, confinement, and handling tactics to those the average individual would use on a dog, yet Ringling’s CEO and employees’ own statements and documents prove the exact opposite: Elephants endure a lifetime of abuse at the hands of the circus,” said Nicole G. Paquette. Esq., witness in the case and senior vice president of Born Free USA. “Treating a dog the way Ringling treats its elephants would land you in jail in California.”

The case against Ringling exposed the following:

  • An independent examination of Ringling’s medical records, by a Board-certified retired veterinarian from the San Diego Zoo, corroborates plaintiffs’ claims that elephants suffer injuries and scarring from bullhook strikes and foot injuries, and lameness from being continually chained. In fact, the evidence revealed that 100% of Ringling’s adult elephants suffer from some form of ailment relating to prolonged chaining on hard surfaces.
  • Ringling’s transportation records proved plaintiffs’ claims that elephants, both in the circus and at Ringling’s Florida breeding center, spend extensive amounts of time being chained. These records documented elephants being chained for up to 100 consecutive hours in cramped circus railroad cars.
  • Kenneth Feld, President of Ringling’s parent company, admitted “all elephant handlers at Ringling strike elephants with bullhooks”.

“Our responsibility as parents is to spend our hard-earned dollars teaching our children compassion and understanding, not domination and disregard. Please think twice before buying a ticket that directly supports such inexcusable cruelty,” asked Feldman.

Born Free USA is a leading national non-profit animal advocacy organization working to conserve and protect wildlife in the U.S. and globally. More information is available at www.bornfreeusa.org. Details on the trial against Ringling Bros. circus, including trial documents and exhibits, can be found at www.bornfreeusa.org/ringling.


Nicole Paquette, 916-622-7170, nicole@bornfreeusa.org

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