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by Jennifer Mishler
Categories: Animals, Causes.
Photo: PETA

Ringling Bros. is no stranger to accusations of animal cruelty, and we’ve talked about some of the many protests and reactions from animal groups toward this controversial circus.

Now, animal rights organizations are speaking out against Ringling in reaction to an incident involving Sarah, a much-talked-about ailing elephant, on Sunday night in Anaheim, Sarah was being loaded onto a train when she collapsed and fell to the ground, according to activists who caught the fall on camera. According to NBC LA, Ameer Sanghvi described what he saw, “They were struggling to get her on the ramp. She finally managed to get on the ramp and that’s when she collapsed on her back on the gravel with rough rocks on the floor.”

Animal Defenders International (ADI) wants the USDA to check Sarah’s condition , and according to ADI rep Matt Rossell, “Elephants are sure footed. It’s a sign that the sickness that she has is causing her real issues. She should be pulled off the road to get the proper veterinary care that she needs.” They also made reference to earlier examinations completed by veterinarians who found Sarah, along with others, to be ill or injured and improperly cared for. According to PETA, “Just weeks ago, two independent veterinarians with many years of experience with elephants analyzed video footage of Ringling’s elephant walk and opening night performance in Los Angeles and determined that one of the elephants “is clinically lame to the point of being crippled. Her condition is painful and she should not be performing” and another elephant with “a lump on [her] left upper leg demonstrates obvious pelvic lameness.”

Meanwhile, Ringling Bros. is claiming that Sarah is not sick, and simply fell while trying to board the train, and the USDA says that “they have done enough” in regard to Sarah’s condition. What do you think?

About Jennifer Mishler

Jennifer Mishler is a writer, and a vegan and animal activist. When she's not writing, you can often find her volunteering or advocating for animal, environmental and human rights causes. Along with writing for Ecorazzi, she has contributed writing for nonprofits like Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and enjoys blogging. She resides in the Washington, DC area (and loves all the vegan food it has to offer). Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @jennygonevegan.

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  • Hina

    Ringling speaks such garbage! Sarah “just fell”? Then why was it so hard to get on the ramp? And why didn’t she just get back up? Elephants don’t “just fall” if they’re happy and healthy.

    The USDA is despicable as well. “They have done enough”? Have they cared for Sarah’s condition and retired her to a sanctuary so that she can be in a more-natural environment?

    Would it be such a great discomfort to the American citizens if they were deprived of seeing juggling monkeys or tiara-ed elephants on hind legs? No! C’mon U.S. governement, shut down animal circuses!!!

    • Karina

      You took the words right out of my mouth, Hina. Its absolutely disgusting that beautiful, sentient beings are being forced and tortured to perform unnatural acts against their will just for a bunch of idiot people to laugh and applaud. If the animals ever band together and stampede the circus workers and/or crowd, I will be completely on their side.

    • Heidi

      I was there. I watched it in clear view. The elephant was stuck in a predicament when she fell. She really couldn’t have gone up or down at that point…at least it didn’t appear that way to me. I don’t know if she was weak. They all looked fine walking to the train. The activists have video footage of the entire thing. I saw many with camcorders. They videotaped every step they made from the minute the came out of the circus. I highly doubt they ALL shut the cameras down when they loaded the train. ESPECIALLY if they knew she was sick and weak. It just doesn’t make sense. Why haven’t they shown the videos? Why are they just showing a photo of her laying on the ground? The activists are the ones with the evidence. They could end all speculation to what happened if they’d just show it.

    • Lynda

      Amen!!! These antiquated side shows need to stop! People if you want to see animals go enjoy them at least in a zoo. Elephants don’t belong in side cars, twirling in circles and holding each others tails. Its a disgrace! What amazes me the parents the uneducated who bring their children to see the suffering of animals.
      Do your children a favor and bring them to a zoo; educate them on their behavoirs, climate or where they come from!
      Instead what are you showing them?? Elephant and Bears walking on hey hind legs or shackled in the basement before the show!
      PS The zoo is also cheaper!

  • marz

    I agree with both of u sumwut… It’s disgusting to here that such great circus can come this low… The animals in the show r the best thing they have & should protect their health and well being… If the elephant falls there’s a much greater reason for that… They should have a vet travel with them @ all times… This way they can be checked at all times and not just when they find sumthing wrong with them or collapse… ((It would be really sad if the circus would get shut dwn for such reasons…)) It’s a family thing that every yr we go to the Ringling circus with our now 4 yr old :l

  • Mike C

    Anyone with average intelligence can see what happened here- elephants are extremely sure-footed, and the only reason for her collapse could be that she is disabled, probably severely… Thats good USDA-”We’ve done enough” = you’ve done nothing. Cut the USDA from the budget before you touch our vet’s retirement… Jackasses!

  • http://www.herwinsvegancafe.com herwin

    shame on the USDA for tolerating this animal abuse, we are still a long way from true civilization..

  • Kyle Noble Quandel

    Ridiculous doesn’t cover it! Trying to squeeze every last dollar out of this poor elephant in masking her illness. Ringling is a disgrace – and the USDA is too. Such a sad story for Sarah – and sure to be a sad ending.

  • Ed Mulrenin

    I was the only one to attend as an observer the entire six week trial in 2009 where Ringling Brothers was accused in U.S. court of abusing the elephants. At that trial, Ken Feld, the billionaire owner of Ringling, admitted under cross examination under oath that his employees beat the elepahnts with bullhooks until they bleed in order to punish them and to discipline them. He also admitted he never saw a “training” session with the elephants even though he admiited that the elepahnst were his most important asset and his head trainer admitted that the training is so horrific that he would not let other Rinlging people in to see the training. During the trial, numerous videoes of abuse of elephants were introiduced as evidence. The judge, Emmett Sullivan, several times looked away in horror. (Unfortunately, the case against Ringling was thrown own on a technicality.)

    We do not need stories like the present one to understand that Ringling abuses animals. Feld’s words should be enough.

    What is most shocling about all of this is that our governments know this abuse is going on but do nothing about it.

  • Kathleen

    Shame on Ringling Bros. They should be banned from using any animals in there shows. That poor elephant should be removed from their custody and given the medical attention she needs. Animals DO NOT just fall down for 10 mins. This innocent proves they neglect and abuse their animals. Everyone shouldboycott their shows, I know myself and my family will!

  • BJ

    Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Brothers, has a huge and effective PR department, to handle all criticism of their treatment of animals.