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Ringling Brothers Circus fought back against HSUS in 2010 but by 2018 there will be no more elephants to entertain us.


Update June 2015 - Mar 2010 |

Chuck Jolley -  and


Is the circus cruel to baby elephants or does Ringling, Barnum & Bailey insure everyone has opportunity to see an elephant?It was a busy Monday, much like any other Monday this winter. The old bones were aching from clearing the driveway of the output of still another snowstorm. I was thinking a couple aspirins and a nap might be a good idea when Rob Cook perked things up. He had just forwarded a press release to me.


“Did you get this?” he asked in his email.


I looked at the headline: ”Racketeering Lawsuit Fingers Humane Society of the United States.”


Now that’s an attention grabber. A vision of the ever dapper Wayne Pacelle, the top gun at HSUS, decked in prison stripes instead of Armani, flashed through my head. “Who,” I thought, “was giving HSUS the finger?”


Turns out it was Ringling Brothers, those kindly circus folk that HSUS and a few other animal rights organizations hammered with an animal cruelty charge a few years ago. In October, 2008, Federal Court proceedings began in a case involving a 2007 lawsuit (see below) filed against Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, claiming their famous elephants were subjected to ‘cruel and inhumane treatment.’


The suit alleged that the circus staff “routinely beat elephants, chain them for long periods of time, hit them with sharp bull hooks, break baby elephants with force to make them submissive, and forcibly remove baby elephants from their mothers before they are weaned.”


After some top flight lawyers on both sides of the issue fought it out in court, ‘mano a mano,’ Ringling Bros was exonerated.


In January 27, the Entertainment Law Digest reported “A federal judge dismissed for lack of standing an animal cruelty lawsuit against the owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, saying the lead plaintiff, a former elephant caretaker, had received nearly $200,000 in illegal payouts from animal rights advocates.”


It didn’t take long for Barnum lawyers to strike back with that RICO suit, did it? Uncovering the existence of the suit were the folks at Center for Consumer Freedom who posted a link to the papers on their just opened web site  David Martosko, one of the more outspoken folks at CCF and their Director of Research, was my first call.


Thanks to Chuck Jolley, David Martosko, and Susan Wolf, Sportsmen's and Animal Owners' Voting Alliance -


Editor's note: In 2004 work elephants saved thousands of people by leading them up the mountain just before the tsunamai hit. We broke the PETA Sues Circus/Circus Sues ASPCA story Aug 2007.  In May 2014 reported the court-ordered $20 million settlement HSUS must pay to the circus. In March of 2015 Ringling Bros. announced they are phasing out all elephant acts by 2018.


Remember that elephants have worked for mankind almost as long as dogs and they are worshipped in many countries.  Will service dogs be next?

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