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For Immediate Release: 08/25/09

Sacramento group in midst of uproar over Ringling elephant abuse claims

Sacramento, CA — As Ringling Bros. circus prepares to open in Sacramento, new undercover video of its handlers beating elephants with bullhooks is spreading like wildfire on the Internet and in the media. Sacramento-based non-profit Born Free USA, a plaintiff in the federal trial against Ringling Bros., points to this investigation as further evidence that Ringling Bros. circus is violating the Endangered Species Act by abusing Asian elephants.

“All the evidence, from this new investigative footage to statements by Ringling’s own CEO, proves that elephants endure a lifetime of abuse at the hands of the circus,” said Nicole G. Paquette. Esq., a 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.”

Additional evidence from the trial included:

  • An independent examination of Ringling’s medical records, by a Board-certified retired veterinarian from the San Diego Zoo, 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 documented elephants being chained for up to 100 consecutive hours in cramped circus railroad cars.

Video from the 2009 investigation by PETA shows handlers repeatedly striking elephants with bullhooks, while evidence from the trial brought an admission from Kenneth Feld, CEO of Ringling’s parent company, that “all elephant handlers at Ringling strike elephants with bullhooks.”

Born Free USA and fellow plaintiffs ASPCA, Animal Welfare Institute, Fund for Animals, and former Ringling employee Tom Rider, are joined by actor and animal welfare advocate Corey Feldman in calling for Californians to skip the circus and stop animal abuse.

“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 Feldman. “People need to act now to stop the abuse — simply by refusing to buy a ticket.”

Born Free USA staff and supporters will be protesting Ringling Bros. shows at Arco Arena beginning Thursday, August 27.

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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