March 5, 2015, LOS ANGELES, CA – Following the announcement from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus that they will phase out elephants from their shows, Animal Defenders International (ADI) is calling on Ringling Bros. to extend their concern to all wild animals in traveling circuses and for other circuses in the US to follow suit.
Jan Creamer, ADI President, said: “After decades of exposing the suffering of animals in circuses behind the scenes, ADI is very pleased to hear this announcement from Ringling Bros., and we encourage other circuses to move to animal-free shows. The evidence is clear that in the circumstances of a traveling show, it is not possible to provide these animals with the environment and facilities they need to maintain health and well-being. The public is increasingly educated about the needs of other species and does not like to see them suffer for a few minutes of entertainment.”
Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, announced that 13 performing elephants will be off the road by 2018.
Highlighting the changing attitudes towards the use of elephants and other wild animals in traveling circuses in the US, Alana Feld, executive vice president of Ringling Bros told the Associated Press “There’s been somewhat of a mood shift among our consumers… A lot of people aren’t comfortable with us touring with our elephants.”
President Kenneth Feld also stated how ordinances restricting traveling circuses using wild animals had made it difficult to plan tours. ADI has been instrumental in securing many of the local restrictions which are now in place in 49 cities/counties and 22 states and internationally, national restrictions on performing animals in traveling circuses, either wild or all animals, have been enacted in 30 countries.
Studies of the use of wild animals in traveling circuses show that circuses cannot meet the physical or behavioral needs of wild animals. Animals are confined in small spaces, deprived of physical and social needs, spending excessive amounts of time shut in transporters. These animals are often seen behaving abnormally; rocking, swaying and pacing, all indicating that they are in distress and not coping with their environment. ADI’s video evidence has shown how these animals are forced to perform tricks through physical violence, fear and intimidation.
ADI has criticized the circus for its use of bullhooks, prods and shackles in violation of Federal Law. In November 2011, the circus settled a USDA action that resulted in a fine of $270,000 for mishandling animals, the largest civil imposed penalty ever issued to a circus by the USDA.