Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Ringling Bros. Circus visits D.C. while Congress considers restrictions on wild animals

Posted: 15 March 2012. Updated: 15 March 2012

Ringling Bros. Circus comes to town amid protests, controversy and newly proposed federal legislation that aims to restrict wild animals from traveling circuses

Washington D.C.- March 14, 2012—Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming to our nation’s capitol, bringing with it a menagerie, and the growing controversy about the suffering of these wild animals from confinement, physical and social deprivation, , arduous journeys, brutal control methods and physical violence.

Animal advocates will host demonstrations before all eight of the Ringling Circus performances, starting Thursday, March 15 and continuing through Sunday, March 18th at Verizon Center, 601 F St., Washington, D.C.

However, activists are not the only ones raising questions about circus animal abuse; the issue has now gained the attention of Congress. Animal Defenders International (ADI), worked with Congressmen Jim Moran (D-VA) and Bill Young (R-FL), to introduce federal legislation last November, the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (H.R. 3359), which aims to protect wild animals by prohibiting them from being forced to perform in traveling circuses. The bill has bipartisan support, is gaining co-sponsors and awaits a hearing in the subcommittee of Livestock, Dairy and Poultry of the House Committee on Agriculture.

“Animal Defenders International applauds Congressmen Jim Moran and Bill Young for introducing the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act, (H.R. 3359), which aims to end the worst abuses of captive wildlife by restricting exotic animals from traveling circuses,” said Matt Rossell, ADI’s Campaigns Director. “Keeping elephants in chains, confining wild animals like lions and tigers in small cages, and using physical violence to make them perform unnatural tricks for the sole purpose of human amusement is increasingly difficult to justify.”

The USDA recently assessed the largest penalty in the history of the Animal Welfare Act, $270,000, against the owners of Ringling Bros. in a landmark settlement related to violations of law that included forcing a sick elephant to perform, rusty cages with splintered floors holding wild cats, and animals escaping.

“The intent of the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act is to restrict the most egregious and inhumane conditions that exotic animals are subjected to when used solely for the purpose of entertainment,” said Representative Moran. “How we treat animals is a reflection of our nation’s moral character. If people knew the way these animals were treated in order to get them to behave in ways that the public finds entertaining, I imagine they would not find it entertaining at all, and in fact, would not want to be part of it.”

It is a myth that wild animals are trained with kindness and rewards. Years of undercover investigations reveal that the training tools of the circus trade include bullhooks, (a heavy bar with a sharpened point and hook) stun guns and other electric prods, metal bars, whips, deprivation of food and water and intimidation. Large, potentially dangerous and often unwilling or distracted wild animals are routinely the subject of abuse by trainers who demand compliance using pain and punishment.



For more information please contact:

Matt Rossell
Animal Defenders International

As the leader of the Break the Chain campaign, ADI works with animal rights and welfare organizations across the U.S. , and is currently working to gain grassroots support for the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (H.R. 3359), which currently has 19 co-sponsors and is awaiting a hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture subcommittee of Livestock, Dairy and Poultry. ADI has conducted investigations of circuses all over the world and has produced comprehensive reports, including one in the U.S. called Science on Suffering which details and provides evidence of the inherent suffering of animals forced to travel and perform.

To find out more information on ADI’s Break the Chain campaign, visit

For more information about the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (H.R. 3359) visit

Animal Defenders International
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues.

More information is available on ADI’s U.S. website:

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