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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Ringling Trial Postponed Once Again

Mistreatment of Elephants to Continue into New Season

Published 11/12/08
By Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., Senior Vice President

As many of you know, we are embroiled in a lawsuit against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in federal district court in Washington, DC for the circus’s mistreatment of Asian elephants. The lawsuit was set to start on October 27, 2008 but was yet again delayed due to Ringling Bros. not playing according to the rules. Did we expect anything less?

The lawsuit alleges that a number of routine practices by the circus are in violation of the Endangered Species Act, including the forceful use of a bullhook and the chaining of elephants for most of the day and night. The trial is now to commence on February 4, 2009.

Ringling Bros. has created a special website about the trial where they tout how prepared they are for trial and blame the plaintiffs — i.e., us and the other animal organizations — for delaying the trial, stating that we are “not prepared to try this case on its merits at this time.” What they fail to mention on their website is that they have tried everything in their power to delay the trial. Their latest stunt is the real reason the trial was delayed. Ringling disclosed the names of 19 new witnesses who they wished to testify at the trial after the court-mandated deadline for submitting their witness list. The Judge issued an order three days before the trial was to start allowing Ringling to call 18 of the 19 new witnesses. The Judge also stated that we (the plaintiffs) now can depose these individuals, which we would have done during the prescribed court-mandated time if Ringling had complied with the court rules.

So there you have it ... one more of many of the tactics that Ringling has used to delay the trial. What Ringling is really afraid of is that when the trial begins, all the evidence we have amassed will enter the public domain and everyone will know what you and I already know ... that the elephants under Ringling’s care are abused and mistreated. Ringling’s PR Machine will not be able to defend against the truth!

So in the meantime we need to dispel the myths the circus feeds into the mainstream. We need to be the elephants’ voice and let everyone know what truly happens behind the big top:

  • Don’t buy tickets to animal circuses.
  • Tell all your friends not to buy tickets to animal circuses.
  • Write your local, state, and federal lawmakers and tell them to take a stand against the mistreatment elephants face in the circus and introduce legislation prohibiting this abuse.

Ringling Bros. cannot delay forever the truth. Help us educate and please help us continue in our efforts to finally bring Ringling Bros to court.

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