Circus faces strong opposition in Northern California
WHAT: Sacramento-based animal advocacy group the Animal Protection Institute (API) has alerted Stockton police of a planned protest against animal abuse at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus (Ringling) performances. Activists will hand out educational brochures to the public and hold posters of a chained elephant asking the question “Animal circuses: Are they really worth it?” A mobile billboard featuring a chained Ringling elephant and the words “Would You Chain Your Dog for Most of Her Life? Why Pay Ringling to Do It to Elephants?” will circle Stockton Arena and downtown Stockton 08/31–09/01.
WHEN: Thursday, August 31, 2006, 6:30–7:00pm
WHERE: Corner of Fremont and Madison (on the north side of Stockton Arena)
WHY: “It is time Ringling honestly addresses the public’s concern about the training and treatment of animals in the circus,” says Nicole Paquette, Esq., Director of Legal and Government Affairs for API. “The simple facts are that these animals are trained by use of force and their complex physical and psychological needs cannot be met by a circus. In this day and age, there is no excuse for such needless cruelty.”
Ringling elephants spend up to 21 hours a day in chains and more than 11 months of the year traveling chained in train boxcars. The elephants of the Ringling Blur Tour, which will perform in Stockton, will clock a total performance time in California of less than 10 hours. For those 10 hours, the animals will be forced to travel, chained and confined in boxcars, for almost 10 weeks and 3,200 miles.
Troy Metzler, the lead elephant trainer for Ringling’s Blue Tour, has repeatedly been documented on videotape hitting elephants numerous times with a bullhook — enough times to earn him the nickname “Captain Hook.” Ringling is currently under investigation by the USDA for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act after Metzler was videotaped repeatedly striking a chained elephant with a bullhook outside an Oakland, CA performance in late 2004. This is one of four USDA investigations pending against Ringling.
Activists have also documented the painful leg condition of Jewel, a Ringling elephant. Despite her obvious injury and apparent pain, she is still forced to perform in Blue Tour performances.
WHO: The Sacramento-based Animal Protection Institute (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 a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against Ringling for violations of the endangered species act in its mistreatment of Asian elephants.
API is the sponsor of AB 3027, the California Elephant Protection Act, which would have banned the use of chains and bullhooks on elephants in the state. In addition, API introduced a similar piece of legislation in Nebraska. API is also the sponsor of S 2699 in Massachusetts, a bill that has passed the Senate on voice vote and would prohibit the use of bullhooks and chains on elephants. For more information, visit www.api4animals.org.
DVD b-roll/still photos of Ringling elephant abuse available upon request.
Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute (API), 916-267-7266