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Photo courtesy of The Elephant Alliance

"The exhibiting of trained animals I abhor. What an amount of suffering and cruel punishment the poor creatures have to endure in order to give pleasure to men devoid of thought." - Albert Schweitzer

Neglect and abuse are inevitable when wild animals are forced to perform unnatural tricks; like a bear dressed in a clown costume forced to ride a tricycle. Positive reinforcement is used by trainers, but it is not enough to convince a 4 ton elephant or adult bear to perform unnatural tricks. Clubs, ax handles, whips, chains, bullhooks, and other 'tools of the trade' are used to violently force animals to perform.

The USDA Fact Sheets citing violations and formal charges against circuses in particular prove that traveling animal acts are wrought with neglect and abuse. You may review the USDA Fact Sheets on any circus by visiting

Wild animals used in traveling acts are subjected to months on the road in confined barren cages with poor ventilation. They are provided with limited veterinarian care. No veterinarian travels with the animals. The animals live in filthy enclosures, often chained or muzzled. They are unable to move freely, express natural behaviors, socialize with their own species, mate and raise families. Their care is in the hands of poorly trained, temporary employees with little or no experience in animal husbandry.

ASPCA SUES RINGLING BROS. CIRCUS FOR CRUELTY TO ENDANGERED ELEPHANTS - The ASPCA and several other animal welfare organizations, including the Fund for Animals and the Animal Welfare Institute, are suing Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus for routinely chaining and beating performing elephants. In support of these charges are video footage of employees hitting elephants, a recent Department of Agriculture report and sworn accounts by former Ringling Brothers employees--which reveal that elephants are kept in chains for as long as 20 hours per day and, from the time they are babies, are beaten, hit and prodded with sharp bullhooks. The case is currently pending in federal district court in Washington, D.C., and in the meantime, the ASPCA urges all animal lovers to boycott Ringling Brothers events. "People go to the circus because they love animals, not knowing they are unwittingly perpetuating the abuse that this circus inflicts on elephants," says ASPCA's Nancy Blaney, Director, Federal Government Affairs and Public Policy. "As long as people continue to buy tickets, Ringling will continue to torment elephants."

WANT EVIDENCE THAT CIRCUSES EMPLOY PEOPLE WITH CRIMINAL TENDENCIES? Go to and in the website Search type "circus". Read news reports #6 about a serial killer who worked at a circus (last paragraph on page) and #30 about a clown who molested a boy.


When a circus arrives in your town, order a video about the abuse that animals suffer in the entertainment industry, and make an appointment to show it to the organizers/sponsors of the circus. You may order a video from

Use that site to obtain copies of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection reports or check the factsheets on the site. You can use violations of the Animal Welfare Act to support your position.

WHILE the circus is in town: Find out where the animals are being unloaded and be there with a camcorder and/or camera. Look for abuse and violations of state anti-cruelty statutes (copies of these statutes are available at public libraries). Call your local animal control department or humane society immediately if you see violations. Also, call the USDA and ask that an inspector be sent to investigate.

Organize a demonstration on opening night. Consider peacefully leafleting at every show.

Write a news release. If you are having a demonstration, let the media know.

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. This is a great opportunity to let people in your area know about the plight of performing animals and to encourage them to boycott circuses with animal acts.

AFTER the circus has left town: Try to find out where the circus is going and call activists in that area. PETA's Grassroots Campaign Department at can give you contacts.

Start a legislative campaign to ban circuses and other traveling exhibits in your town or county. This has already happened in a number of towns, and it can happen in yours!


The elephants pictured below were rescued from the neglect and abuse of the entertainment industry. They reside now at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Photos courtesy of the Sanctuary. Visit to learn more:

Orange County News & Action Alerts

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New York Cruelty To Animal Statutes

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