NEW YORK (June 3) - With their colorful headgear and repertoire of tricks, they're top-billed stars of The Greatest Show on Earth.
But away from the arena, the Asian elephants used in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus are at the heart of perhaps the most bitter animal-care fight around, one that's dragged through court for six years already and is inching toward a trial.
It's a heavyweight bout, pitting America's biggest circus against some of the most influential animal-welfare groups. Ringling insists that its elephants receive state-of-the-art treatment and it's determined to keep them in its cast.
Its adversaries - a group including the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Welfare Institute - argue vehemently that circus life is inherently cruel to the elephants.
They allege that the use of sharpened hooks by trainers, the routine use of chains, the separation of baby elephants from their mothers and other common circus practices add up to an egregious violation of the Endangered Species Act, which covers the Asian elephant and prohibits harm to it. The suit's goal is a court order halting these practices, which the activists believe would force Ringling to give up elephants altogether.
"It's impossible to have these animals in captivity the way they are without it leading to abuse - traveling in chains in boxcars up to 50 weeks, performing tricks because of force and intimidation," said Michelle Thew of the Animal Protection Institute, another plaintiff.
Ringling shows no signs of bowing to pressure, and has become more outspoken in defending itself since the first-of-its-kind suit was filed in 2000....continued here.
Also, there is a poll underneath the photo - be sure to vote!
I can't believe so many people think the circus is fine. Even before I went veg, my whole family was against the circus.