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It’s The Cruelest Show On Earth Says PETA

Evening Edition

The circus has come to town, but it's not without controversy. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has been in business for 142 years, and last year it paid a $270,000 fine for violating the Animal Welfare Act.

If Kelly the elephant could talk, would she still be shaking her head "no" to claims Ringling Brothers is routinely abusing its elephants to get them to perform circus tricks? Her trainer Joey Frisco said he's been around elephants all of his life and as a third generation trainer, he disagrees with people who claim the animals are being mistreated at the circus.

"Absolutely false," Frisco said. He said 85 percent of their training is done with verbal commands and the steel-tipped bullhook or guide is only used to get their attention when distracted.

"I don't know many people who could reach over and touch an elephant and say come here, and it's (the guide) just an extension of our arm. It's been turned into something else to make it look like we're doing something wrong, but we know we're not and mostly everybody else knows that we're not," Frisco said.

But the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) disagrees. About two dozen members protested downtown near Horton plaza, including PETA organizer Matt Bruce.

"We've reached out to Ringling a number of times and they never respond back to us because they don't have a leg to stand on," Bruce said.

He said PETA's main objective is to have the circus eliminate wild animals from performing all together.

"There's a high number of deaths that have happened on their watch, the long list of animal welfare violations, the recent fine the USDA levied against them, the largest fine in circus history for multiple violations of the animal welfare act," he said.

The Ringling Brothers Circus runs through Sunday at the Valley View Casino Center. But Adam Schenck, who observed the protest, said he won't be going to the circus.

"I'm glad to see it, it's good for people to get out there and inform people about what might be going on with the circus. And it puts the pressure on Ringling Bros to prove they are treating the animals well," he said.

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Avatar for user 'Soockeedoo'

Soockeedoo | August 24, 2012 at 7:24 p.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

What was not in this story is that Ringling won a lawsuit against animal rights organizations because their cheif witness was essentially a paid plaintiff and deemed notnreliable by the courts. As for the fine, the fine was for twenty seven non-compliances found on USDA inspections, not violations of the AWA as PETA claims. Even though non-compliances are mended, fines are still levied. If one obtains the inspection reports, they will find that most instances are housekeeping related. And it takes a special person to work with animals, not everybody can be with animals 24/7 cleaning up after animals and feeding them. One wouldn'T choose careers with animls if they didn't love and care for animals. And If they had anything to hide, then why do they offer Animal Open Houses? You can see for yourself how well the qnimals are treated.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | August 24, 2012 at 8:08 p.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

Soockeeboo: "One wouldn'T choose careers with animls if they didn't love and care for animals."

I'm not buying this. Nobody who loves animals would choose to work somewhere that imprisons animals and forces them to do circus tricks for large crowds.

I would never give one cent of my money to see one of these horror shows, it's barbaric and unnecessary.

If you have a shred of respect for these beautiful animals you will not go to the circus.

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Avatar for user 'Soockeedoo'

Soockeedoo | August 24, 2012 at 11:42 p.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

Contrare, nobody forces any animal to perform. Animals need encouragement to perform. It's called positive re-enforcement. No animals would want to perform if it had no insentive to. That's exactly what positive re-enforcement does, give them incentive to perform. Whenever an animal succesfully executes a maneuver, they receive either praise, or a treat. It's a technique one sees in action down in the ring. If one beat an animal to get it to perform, then you would see animals shying away from people and handlers because it would learn to fear humans, and you would seem them beating the animals with sticks down in the ring, which you don't see. Positive re-enforcement is the technique that works best, and it's the only technique allowed under the AWA. It's just like how one trains a dog. All animals are smart enough to learn from positive re-enforcement
It actually does take a unique person who truly loves animals to work with them. Not many people would be able to spend time around the clock cleaning up after animals, bathing animals, feeding animals, taking them out for exercise, and giving them veterinary care. And training takes a great deal of time and patience. Nobody would spend such an extreme amount of time around the animals if they loved them.

Oh, and by the way, I enjoy such shows and zoos. That's probably why I have such a respect for the animals. To say I have no respect for these animals or their handlers is far from the truth. Whether it's against your philosophy to go to the circus or not is okay-that's your opinion. But it's not okay to disparage circus patrons for not sharing your views and enjoying the show.

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