Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will host a charity performance of their circus show on July 21 to benefit a children’s organization. Charity is a great thing, but Ringling Bros. has long been questioned as to its treatment of animals.
The charity performance is set for July 21 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Celebrity attendees will reportedly include Nolan Gould, James Denton, Molly Ringwald, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and more. Guests will attend a “private charity reception and personal performer meet-and-greet, followed with an electrifying performance of the newest Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus production, Fully Charged.” Proceeds from the event are going to the Starlight Children’s Foundation, a charity for seriously ill children providing “outpatient, hospital-based and Web offerings that enable us to provide ongoing support for children and families — from diagnosis through the entire course of medical treatment.”
This is a wonderful charity, and supporting good causes should be applauded. However, Ringling Bros. has an ugly history of not being so charitable to animals. Their trainers have been caught on video during undercover investigations beating elephants and randomly lashing at them with whips. According to PETA, their investigator “witnessed these elephants being beaten for no apparent reason…We’ve known for years that backstage beatings occur…but what will strike the audience is that these elephants can’t do anything right as far as these workers go.”
Ringling Bros. has also faced federal level animal cruelty charges claiming that ”circus workers routinely hit the elephants with a bull hook – a club with a sharp, pointed hook – while training and disciplining them. ”The suit was filed a year after Benjamin, a 4-year-old Ringling elephant, died in a pond in Huntsville, Texas. Benjamin was swimming when his trainer motioned for him to get out.When he disobeyed, the trainer came at him with a bull hook and the elephant died of a heart attack.”
Ringling Bros. has been accused of violating the Endangered Species Act by abusing endangered elephants, and cited several times by the United States Department of Agriculture. PETA maintains a list of elephants deaths that have occured at Ringling Bros. and charges and citations they have received. Ringling Bros. has claimed that their animals are well-cared for and the accusations from animal organizations are unfounded. “t’s a great life for elephants. They get 24 hour, seven-day-a-week care, people with them all the time, tending to their needs, their health. They get exercised — they are in movement constantly. Look at the elephants. We invite the public to our open house, how healthy they look, their muscle tone. They’re happy. They’re in good condition. They respond to the trainers. They have great rapport with the trainers and enjoy themselves.” Protests continue against this circus wherever it goes, and animal rights groups continue to demand a boycott of Ringling Bros.