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Animal rights activists to stage protest of Ringling Bros. circus outside Staples Center

Ringling circus elephants

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus has returned to Los Angeles, drumming up publicity for its "Barnum's FUNundrum!" show with a Tuesday predawn parade of Asian elephants from Union Station to the Staples Center. The circus runs at Staples from Wednesday through Sunday.

Animal rights activists, including members of In Defense of Animals and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have planned a demonstration outside Staples on Wednesday evening to coincide with the circus' opening night. According to In Defense of Animals, the group intends to display a bullhook, a type of hooked pole used by circus staff on elephants, "to demonstrate how sharp, heavy and destructive these instruments are."

PETA and like-minded groups have long opposed Ringling's use of animals in its shows, arguing that both the training methods used by the circus and the manner in which the animals are housed and transported between shows amount to cruelty. PETA hosts a website, RinglingBeatsAnimals.com, to showcase undercover video and other information it says is evidence of the circus' cruelty.

In 2009, a years-long legal battle between animal activists and Ringling Bros. and its parent company, Feld Entertainment, went to trial. The plaintiffs, which included a former Ringling Bros. employee, argued that Ringling's treatment of elephants violated the Endangered Species Act's ban on "harming," "harassing" or "wounding" an endangered animal. The judge ruled in favor of the circus.

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-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Elephants walk from a railroad car parked in Vernon to the Staples Center three miles away July 13. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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The judge ruled in favor of Ringling on a technicality of standing, not on the merits of whether Ringling's treatment of elephants violated the Endangered Species Act's ban on "harming," "harassing" or "wounding" an endangered animal. The evidence presented in the case, including Ringling's testimony, overwhelming proved that Ringling routinely beats the elephants, keeps them chained for days at a time and brutally takes baby elephants away from their mothers to train them to do circus tricks. Had the judge ruled on the merits Ringling would no longer be using elephants.

It is despicable that animals are still allowed to perform in circuses when everybody knows they get beaten til their spirit breaks and they have no choice but to learn these retarded tricks. We should be ashamed of ourselves for letting it go on.

PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals

I hope the circus sells out.

Circus animals have no role in a civilized society.

Confining them to cages and transporting them in trucks and trains for thousands of miles yearly to perform stupid tricks for our stupid enjoyment is disgraceful.

Shame on us for permitting this.

I am hoping and praying in earnest that enough people will boycott all circuses so that this will be the last show Ringling ever has. So my ultimate question is, who really are the "beasts" here?

Can't people just go to Cirque du Soleil instead of supporting these types of circuses? Even though my parents took me and my siblings to this circus when we were kids, we had to leave early when all three of us started bawling when we saw the animals being whipped and mistreated. That was 25 years ago and I have never been back to a Ringling Bros. circus.

The best thing to do is to educate people in a non-confrontational way about the mistreatment of the animals so that they stop attending and they go out of business.

Animals shouldn't be paraded around and made to do tricks. It is unbelievable to me that these kinds of circuses still exist. Way to go PETA, at least someone is sticking up for the animals.

I have to complain as well about what are now two examples of sloppy journalism here -- other commenters are correct that the judge in the Ringling case did NOT "rule in favor" of the circus, he simply said the plaintiffs alleging abuse of an endangered species did not have standing to bring the suit. While that resulted in there not being a public-enough airing of the well-documented litany of abuse by Ringling employees, certainly a victory for Feld Entertainment, in no way could it be construed by anyone who can read English that the judge "ruled in favor" of Ringling, which necessarily implies that either he found that there was no abuse or that he thought the abuse was okay.

So now twice, in this article, and in the article you link to on the ruling, L.A. Unleashed has implied something that is just not true, to the detriment of the elephants and the people who are fighting for their lives. It's very disappointing.

And since I'm here, I'd also like to suggest that it couldn't hurt for L.A. Unleashed staff to investigate who WOULD, in this misguided judge's opinion, have "standing" to sue Ringling Brothers for breaking U.S. law. If animal rights activists with extensive documentation, AND a former Ringling employee who witnessed the abuse aren't entitled as citizens to sue lawbreakers, who is? Does this judge think only the elephants are qualified to sue?

The only reason Ringling uses animals in their acts is because the humans don't have enough talent to entertain on their own. Pathetic.

I am so ashamed to be a human -to think that these humans can rule in favor of cruel and unjust treatment of animals in circuses and zoos as being humane is complete insanity and heartless!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It should be noted that members from In Defense of Animals, Last Chance for Animals, and Orange County People for Animals also participated in this protest.

Circus animals are enslaved just for entertainment and it’s not right! I urge people not to support the circus because it forces magnificent wild animals to endure a life of unnatural confinement and torment. God did not design tigers to live in boxes and elephants to live in shackles their entire lives, like they do in the circus. And it’s solely for our entertainment – how frivolous!

It’s not morally right to accept their misery as a trade off for a few minutes of amusement. We don’t need to use animals for our entertainment, nor should we as a civilized society.

In their homelands, elephants and tigers run, interact with their own species, scratch themselves on trees, forage for food, and swim and play in streams and ponds. They cannot do any of these natural, normal activities when they are relegated to the abusive life in the circus.

In the circus, they are chained or behind electric fencing all of the time except when performing. When not in the ring, tigers are kept in cages that are so small they can hardly stand up or turn around. The elephants are routinely kept chained and locked up to 50 weeks a year to eat, drink, sleep, defecate, and urinate in the same place, and let out only when it is time for a performance. These sensitive animals are trained using physical force: whips, hooks, chains, and food deprivation.

‘“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.” ~ Alice Walker “

Im sorry but I just don't understand how someone can have such strong feeling about an issue yet stop in the middle of a protest to smile for the cameras. If you look through the photos of these protesters the majority of them are smiling happily for the cameras. What is there to be so happy about? The other half of the protesters are screaming into the faces of families of whom like myself may have had no idea of the issue. Screaming angrily into someones face is not a way to win them over. They should be more focused on educating people on what all is going on than being aggressive. Another thing that may help is to have photos with recent dates like as in the last 5 years. So far the only photos Ive been approached with are like from 10 +yrs ago. Whose to say those same people are there and that it's still going on. While I am not convinced I am open to being presented with information just not in the form of screaming in me and my child's face or taking off your clothes. The only thing your doing is making people NOT want to even bother to take the time to understand your view. Why should I go out of my way to stop and hear what an angry screaming person has to say about something I don't yet know about and why should I believe you when your dressed like a half naked idiot in a circus hat? The only thing you're doing is pushing people away from you.


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