L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

« Previous Post | L.A. Unleashed Home | Next Post »

Judge rules in favor of Ringling Bros. in case alleging abuse of circus elephants


A federal judge Wednesday ruled in favor of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in a case brought by animal rights activists who accused the circus of abusing elephants.

In Washington, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said former Ringling Bros. employee Tom Rider and the Animal Protection Institute did not have legal standing to sue the circus, owned by Feld Entertainment Inc. Rider and the animal protection group brought the lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act.

During the six-week trial in February and March, the attorney for the animal rights groups asked the judge to stop the circus from harming the elephants during performances and punishing them for bad behavior. They alleged that the use of bullhooks and prolonged chaining violated the federal law.

Feld Entertainment argued that the animals are not hurt and that the instruments are necessary to keep the pachyderms under control and protect public safety.

At the time, the judge expressed some reluctance to police circus methods and asked how the prods and chains are different from spurs used on horses and whips with tigers.

Ringling Bros. said during the trial it cannot have the Asian elephants without these instruments because there is no other proven way to keep the animals under control and protect their trainers and the viewing public.

Feld's attorneys said their elephants are healthy, alert and well cared for, including those that travel with the show and those that live at the company's 200-acre conservatory in Florida.

"This ruling represents a victory for the elephants and a win for the U.S. Constitution because it reinforces that the federal court is no place to entertain a philosophical debate about whether elephants should be in the circus," said Michelle Pardo, an attorney representing Feld Entertainment.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Elephants are unloaded by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey staff for a circus appearance at Staples Center in July. Credit: Jake Stevens / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (16)

The comments to this entry are closed.

The "animal rights" terrorists lose another...

This ruling was based on standing to sue, a technicality, and the court never reached the issue of whether Ringling abuses the elephants, which the evidence established they do, if you consider beating elephants, chaining elephants, taking baby elephants away from their mothers and beating them to get them to perform circus tricks abuse.

the public wouldn't be in danger if the elephants weren't there...no excuse for animal abuse!

Speaking out and lobbyin on behalf of animals (which cannot, I believe, speak out on behalf of themselves) makes someone a terrorist?

The media paid more attention to the over population of Chihuahuas getting shipped to the East Coast. I saw enough of the video to want to take that prod and shove it up the trainer's ...

Ringling Bros may have won in court but it's moms who do the ticket buying.

Do any of you know whether these animals are 'abused'??
Can you define abuse??

Is it also abuse to housetrain a dog?
How about riding a horse?
Is it abuse when your goldfish dies before it's 20 plus?

If you don't want to see animals in circuses or zoos, by all means avoid going to those places. But to support AR terrorists in any way, you're also making darn sure that someday in the not too distant future, you won't have a dog to housetrain, or a goldfish to enjoy

I find the title AR terrorists interesting. First I am an Advocate trying to educate people to the living conditions of elephants in circuses. Tom Rider is an ex employee with inside knowledge. The judge ruled he and Other(s) did not have a "right" to sue Ringling. But during this court case (read the transcripts they are on line and they have many facts that show Ringling and Feld do not care for their elephants. See how long they remain in the transport cars, while on the road. There are videos out there if you choose to view them. Of course Feld's and Ringlings PR machine will tell you these are lies and staged. It is up to you the public to actually learn the truth. We can do down in history as the generation that realized this was wrong or go done in history as the generation who allowed this to happen. The choice is ours to make. I prefer not to go down in history as doing nothing. So I will continue to speak out for these majestic animals. Hopefully one day some of you will not turn a blind eye and speak out in their defence also. Thank you.

I find it odd that someone who calls themselves "animal welfare" would compare beating, chaining, kidnapping and electric shocking an elephant to housetraining a dog. Clearly, Ringling Bros. Circus abuses its elephants and the judge in this case didn't want to even hear the case. He made several biased statements to that effect at the start of the trial that should have disqualified him from hearing the case. He took all this time to render a decision based on a technicality so he didn't even have to deal with the core issue in the case. He decided to throw Tom Rider under the bus, instead. A completely cowardly and corrupt judicial trick. Congratulations, Ringling, you've successfully bought another "victory". But just wait until you and your outfit come to our town again. We'll be waiting for you with huge public demonstrations against you and your fellow criminals. You'll see real "people power".

Read Judge Sullivan's decision, folks.
The ASPCA and the other organizations paid Tom Rider over $150,000 including diverting a fundraiser into his pocket. He could not even remember some of the elephant's names nor their physical characteristics. Judge Sullivan ruled that he was not at all credible. Now the ASPCA is rightfully being sued under RICO - because they conspired with the other organizations to fabricate the case and pay Tom Rider to be a plaintiff. This is illegal. It is not ok to trample on the constitution of the US in the name of preventing animal cruelty. Let them follow the law like everyone else.

The ASPCA are hypocrites. They have the circus in NYC all the time. The ASPCA has the authority to enforce animal cruelty laws in NYC. They could just arrest the circus handlers---instead they sue in federal court? Asian elephants have been trained by people for thousands of years in India. They move logs, help build roads, etc. etc. You can argue that any exploitation of animals is abuse, but the alternative is extinction. There's not enough room for wild elephants and man to coexist--hence they are domesticated. Elephants are very smart and very trainable. In India, they train then with chains and eventually the handlers can hold them in place with literally a thread--because of the conditioned response. Is this cruelty? Maybe but the alternative is death.

I can't believe the attorney representing the circus is saying this is victory for the elephants. How misleading!!! Also - if the only way to secure public safety from the elephants is to cause them pain and suffering, then maybe we should stop putting the public in harms way and STOP having elephants in the circus? YA THINK?

I think it's odd for someone to compare the beating and chaining of elephants to housetraining a dog. Circus aficionados don't like to think about the brutality that goes in to producing the kind of performances they enjoy. How do you think they get them to perform those stupid tricks for you? By saying "Pretty please?" I don't think so.

"interested" - I have read the decision, though not selectively, as you seem to have. The judge ruled that Rider was not credible only insofar as the issues relating to standing. There was no ruling or indication that the FACTS of the case itself - the beatings, the chainings - were not true; in fact, RIngling employees under oath testified that the elephants are regularly hit with bullhooks, and that they are chained up to 100 hours at a time while traveling, and as much as 23 1/2 hours every day at "home". Think that's not abuse? I'd hate to be one of your kids!

As far as the payments go - that amount was over a nearly 10-year period, a fact which you conspicuously ignore to make it sound much, much worse than it was.

But none of the standing issues, which caused the case to be dismissed, change the facts: Ringling elephants are beaten and chained, the babies are torn from their mothers so they can be trained, and all of this is horrific abuse of an intelligent animal, which the public is learning more about with every day that passes. As for the "alternative is death" argument - what crap! Elephants are endangered because we have been treating them like disposable objects for many, many years. We need to focus on conservation where they naturally live, and stop pretending that circuses are doing anything but more harm.

India has just released their elephants from their zoos and circuses and sent them all to wildlife refuges. I think they should know a little more about the care and feeding of Elephants than we do. The federal judge in this this case was a total biased coward. Pitiful. Speak with your wallets and boycott Ringling, as well as tell everyone you know about the disgraceful sadistic way they treat their animals.

"The court finds that Mr Rider is essentially a paid plaintiff and fact witness who is not credible, and therefore affords no weight to his testimony," Sullivan wrote in his ruling.
"Mr Rider's self-serving testimony at trial about his personal and emotional attachment to these elephants also is not credible because he did not begin to make complaints about how FEI treated its elephants until after he began accepting money from animal activists"

Talk about burying the lead - No mention of how this guy Rider was paid over 150k by animal rights groups to do nothing for the past 8 years but put his name on this case? It's an effing crime not to report that, but anything to pander and get more readers, right Tribune Co.? No wonder you FAIL.

The animals could not, once again, get justice from a corrupt judge. So we, the public, will give them justice by boycotting and demonstrating against this criminal operation known as Ringling Bros. Circus. We're going to really jack you over in every town you come to. Massive demos, lobbying local politicians, ads and media coverage. We're going to pulverize you.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


Pet Adoption Resources

Recent Posts