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Your newspaper may print the truth about circuses

Posted by tinako on November 1, 2014

Educational or Entertaining?  You decide.

Educational or Entertaining? You decide. You can view videos of Ringling’s backstage beatings at RinglingBeatsAnimals.com.

With Ringling Circus coming to our city, a group of us were inspired to take some actions against this barbaric industry (and other animal entertainments).  To support these efforts, I wrote a letter to the editor which was published in our city newspaper last month:

Ban Barbaric Businesses

Ringling Brothers Circus is coming to Rochester at the end of the month. Both dog fighting and animal circuses abuse animals for profit and entertainment. Why condemn and outlaw one and buy tickets to the other? Patronize the wonderful non-animal circuses that come here instead, such as Circus Orange and Cirque du Soleil. Tell your friends, and ask the City Council to ban these barbaric businesses from our community.

Ringling’s PR person got right on that and fired off a response:

Once again, animal rights activists are using our return to Rochester to distort Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s excellent record of animal care.

Everyone with Ringling Bros. takes great pride in presenting quality family entertainment to audiences across the country, but animal rights activists continue to level spurious charges against Ringling Bros.’ dedicated team of animal care professionals.

Ringling Bros. is proud of its human and animal partnerships and the needs of our animals are a top priority. Ringling Bros. meets or exceeds all federal, state and local animal standards, is subject to regular unannounced inspections, and has never been found in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Rather than take what animal rights groups say at face value, we invite Rochester families to come see for themselves how the animals are thriving at The Greatest Show On Earth.

STEPHEN PAYNE
FELD ENTERTAINMENT (PARENT COMPANY OF RINGLING BROS.), VIENNA, VA

His distortion of the truth and silly logic made it easy for us.  Someone I don’t know but would like to meet responded in a letter printed October 15th:

Circus should allow access behind the scenes

In response to Stephen Payne, Feld Entertainment, parent company of Ringling Bros., who invites Rochester families to see for themselves how their animals are thriving in their circus, I wonder why he doesn’t invite these families behind the scenes to see how well the animals are housed and treated or install live Web cameras on a website for the public to view.

Each city Ringling Bros. comes to, including Rochester, should install video cameras in the animal quarters to personally view Ringling Bros.’ supposedly humane treatment and hold it accountable for any mistreatment.

This is great, but League of Humane Voters of Rochester felt that the claim that they’d never been found in violation of the AWA had to be answered, and our letter was printed a few days ago:

Ringling Fine Wasn’t Mentioned

In a recent letter, a Ringling Brothers’ representative claims Ringling “has never been found in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act.” But in 2011, Ringling was slapped with a $270,000 fine (the maximum allowed by law) for 27 violations.

In addition, the writer suggests people come to watch the show to see how the animals are thriving. Behind-the-scene abuse, however, is there for all to see online by Googling “Ringling abuse.”

Join the families who have said “no” to this sort of animal cruelty. Support non-animal entertainment as an act of compassion and support a proposed ordinance recently presented to the Rochester City Council that would ban animal circuses.

This was printed in the paper days before the circus came.  It was better before they edited it*, but see how easy it is to reach thousands of people with the truth?  It took me less than ten minutes to write those two letters, some time over the course of a day for our group to revise the second one, and probably forty seconds to submit it to the newspaper.

You can support our efforts here by starting or intensifying your own action in your city.  The more we can show that this is not a handful of local nuts but a worldwide movement of compassion and justice, the sooner we can end this nightmare.


* For the record, here is what we actually wrote to the newspaper, which was well within their LTE word count:

A representative of Ringling Brothers, Stephen Payne, recently wrote a letter to this newspaper defending the treatment of the animals under their care, saying Ringling “has never been found in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act” and suggesting people come watch the show to see how the animals are thriving.

Mr. Payne failed to mention that in 2011 the USDA slapped Ringling Brothers with a $270,000 fine, the largest in the history of the Animal Welfare Act and the maximum allowed by law for what the USDA said was 27 violations.

And while it’s ridiculous to think that anyone could confirm what Ringling calls their “excellent record of animal care” by attending a public performance, the behind-the-scenes evidence of abuse is there for all to see online by Googling “Ringling abuse.”

If any of this makes you too uncomfortable to enjoy the circus, you’re not alone – Ringling continues to cancel performances (73 fewer than 2013 – a reduction of 12%) due to declining attendance.

Join the families who have said “no” to supporting this sort of animal cruelty and abuse. Support non-animal entertainment instead as an act of compassion – and support an ordinance banning animal circuses which was recently presented to the Rochester City Council.

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