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For Immediate Release: 09/21/06

Local and national groups kick off 4-day protest of Ringling Bros.’ mistreatment of animals

WHAT: Sacramento-based animal advocacy group, the Animal Protection Institute (API), along with other groups, will kick off the hometown leg of a nationwide campaign protesting Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey circus for its mistreatment of circus animals. Activists will hand out educational brochures to the public at each of Ringling’s nine scheduled Sacramento performances.

Additionally, API has placed static billboards around Sacramento and a mobile billboard featuring a photo of 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 Arco Arena and downtown Sacramento Thursday and Friday.

WHEN: Thursday, September 21, 2006, 6:30–7:00pm
WHERE: Arco Arena, main entrance
WHY: 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 that will perform in Sacramento 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.

Ringling is currently under investigation by the USDA for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act after elephant trainer Troy Metzler, who will also perform in Sacramento, 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, including the death of an 8-month-old elephant and an incident where two elephants escaped from a handler and rampaged in an arena, pending against Ringling.

“It is time Ringling responds truthfully to the public’s concern about the training and treatment of elephants in the circus,” says Michelle Thew, CEO of the Animal Protection Institute. “The simple facts are that these animals are trained by use of force and intimidation 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.”

API manages the Circus Activist Network, a nationwide web of concerned citizens speaking out against circus animal abuse. This year API has organized large-scale protests of Ringling in Tampa, FL, Philadelphia, PA, Stockton, CA and assisted activists from dozens of states in organizing local protests.

API, along with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and Fund for Animals (FFA), is currently litigating a case in federal court, under the Endangered Species Act, against Ringling regarding its mistreatment of Asian elephants.

“Ringling touts this as an ‘all new show’, but to the elephants it’s nothing but the same old cruelty,” says Thew.

WHO: The 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 sponsor of AB 3027, the California Elephant Protection Act, which would have banned the use of chains and bullhooks on elephants in the state. API introduced similar legislation in Nebraska and in Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.api4animals.org.

DVD b-roll/still photos of Ringling elephant abuse available upon request.

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute (API), 916-267-7266.

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