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Ringling Bros is fined $270,000 by the USDA after allegations reminiscent of "Water for Elephants"--claims the circus' stars suffer abuse at the hands of circus employees. Just months ago, performing star "Sarah" collapsed in Anaheim. Field Entertainment claims the 54-year-old and sick animal's fall was not due to abuse or exhaustion but a ramp issue. Others don't believe that.
Field Entertainment, as producer of the Ringling Brothers shows, refuses to admit any wrongdoing in handling or care of its elephants. But the USDA has officially ordered Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus to pay over one quarter of a million in penalty related to treatment of the elephant performers. Field Entertainment has legally agreed to implementation of supposed new training protocols for circus handlers of the animals.
The fine's a result of Settlement after a federal appeals court has dismissed the lawsuit filed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Protection Institute -- a suit claiming the circus is in violation of the Endangered Species Act, accompanied by the argument that Ringling Brothers abuses and exploits elephants through using metal hooks or bullhooks for control and that the circus chains the animals' legs when the elephants aren't performing. And the swirling abuse claims aren't exactly new or seem particularly unfounded.
Ringling Bros star elephant, Sarah, collapsed after a circus performance in Southern California at the Honda Center in Anaheim. With the collapse of a sick elephant just months ago in August -- amidst the circulation of rumors and following a lawsuit alleging abuse -- Ringling Brothers swore it was simply a loss of balance related to a ramp. But animal welfare advocates said 'no' -- alleging Sarah's fall was from a lack of or improper medical care coupled with one tired elephant. And right prior, in June, the United States Department of Agriculture had already cited Ringling Brothers.
That's not to mention allegations surrounding the circus being previously cited for using rail cars with protruding wires, in animal transport.
The USDA said the circus was violating the Federal Animal Welfare Act -- failing to treat and diagnose the female elephant's illness. While Ringling Brothers admits Sarah the elephant has suffered from a chronic infection for the better part of 15 years and more than one-quarter of the animal's life, since 1997, the circus somehow claims that illness isn't serious or related to the animal's collapse that happened less than two months after the circus had already been cited.
Of course it seems a bit strange that an animal that is highly-trained to perform incredible feats of balance simply can't find that balance to navigate a ramp. There's calls to end the circus -- to completely bypass any involvement in efforts and to cut lucrative sales to those companies responsible for performing animal abuse or torture.