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For Immediate Release: 04/18/06

National campaign protesting circus animal abuse kicks off in Philly

Mobile billboard featuring shackled Ringling elephants to be unveiled; protests planned for length of show’s run

Philadelphia, PA — As Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus (Ringling) touts the arrival of its “all-new” ring-less performance in Philadelphia, the Animal Protection Institute (API) will launch a national campaign calling on Ringling to “keep the rings, lose the chains” and release endangered Asian elephants from the rigors and abuse of performing in the circus.

API’s Chief Executive Officer, Michelle Thew, one of the most respected animal advocates worldwide, will be in Philadelphia to launch the campaign and take part in a protest with local activists from API’s national Circus Activist Network and Philadelphia’s Circus Education Campaign. Ms. Thew will also unveil a mobile billboard featuring a photo of chained Ringling elephants that will travel the streets of Philadelphia April 20–22.

“Ringling makes many attempts to deflect growing public criticism of its mistreatment of elephants,” says Thew. “But anyone with common sense knows you don’t train a 10,000-pound elephant to do something as unnatural as standing on her head by giving her a peanut. Elephants perform tricks as a result of force and intimidation. Ringling’s all-new show is sadly nothing different for the elephants.”

Ringling claims its animals are treated like cherished family members, but its record of animal deaths and mistreatment tells a different story. Concerned citizens have repeatedly videotaped incidents in which Ringling employees subjected animals to cruel treatment and the USDA has repeatedly fined Ringling for Animal Welfare Act violations. In addition, the USDA has four open investigations into Ringling’s animal care, including the deaths of two baby elephants.

Ringling also touts its commitment to conserving Asian elephants via its Center for Elephant Conservation, frequently failing to mention that 4 of the 19 elephants whose births it promotes have died. Those who survive become nothing more than circus performers.

“Ringling is obviously concerned that the truth about its animal care will be exposed. Then consumers will finally have the power to make informed decisions about what kinds of companies they give their hard-earned money — and their children’s hearts — to,” says Thew.

“The simple fact is you can not meet the physical or emotional needs of a complex animal, such as an elephant, while shuttling them in boxcars, from arena to arena, more than 11,000 miles, for up to 50 weeks of the year,” says Thew.

API, along with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Fund for Animals and Animal Welfare Institute, has filed a federal lawsuit against Ringling and its parent company, Feld Entertainment, for violating the Endangered Species Act through the circus’s misuse and mistreatment of endangered Asian elephants.

API is a national nonprofit animal advocacy organization working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education. API is a nationally recognized leader on circus elephant issues and the sponsor of Nebraska legislative bill LB 1000 and California legislative bill AB 3027, which would ban the use of chains and bullhooks on elephants in the state and also sets minimum space requirements for elephants in zoos and traveling shows. For more information, visit www.api4animals.org.


Interviews with Ms. Thew and DVD b-roll and still photos of Ringling animal mistreatment are available upon request.

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

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