Helping Animal Rights Through Education (HARTE) protested at a Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus in Augusta, Georgia last week attempting to convince people not to attend claiming the circus company abuses animals. The Augusta Journal states the protesters allege circuses are outdated as entertainment and they are physically and psychologically harmful to animals. Animal rights groups allegedly documented animal abuse in videos and fines have been levied against Ringling Brothers. The circus company was fined for animal abuse by the USDA between 2007 and 2011, however, it looks like the company took the fines over a long, drawn out court battle and does not admit to any wrong doing.
What is of note is a short interview in the Chronicle‘s article that vice president of corporate communication for Ringling Brothers’ parent company Feld Entertainment Stephen Payne noted an investigation made by the infamous Leftist rag Mother Jones. The magazine alleged that Ringling Brothers had conducted numerous acts of animal abuse (such as beatings) that took place over a number of years. PeTA also released a number of videos allegedly filmed at the circus showing acts of abuse against circus animals. The USDA investigated claims of abuse uncovered during the Mother Jones investigation but the circus was never cited.
Payne states the Mother Jones investigation was a farce.
“Was there sloppy handling? Yes, there was. Were any of these animals harmed? No, they were not,” Payne said.
Payne said Ringling’s use of Asian elephants in circus acts is vital to the conservation of the species. He also said abuse is prohibited by handlers, who have strong bonds with the animal they train for decades at a time.
“Our elephants are stimulated by everything they do. We don’t make any elephant do anything an elephant doesn’t want to do. You can’t make 8,000 pounds do something 8,000 pounds doesn’t want to do,” Payne said, referencing elephants who ride tricycles, balance on stools and lie down on command.
Like in many other instances, we see yet again animal rights groups misrepresenting the truth if not outright lying about the conditions of animals in captivity. In this context it is for entertainment purposes. One of the pieces of evidence they use are videos that oft times are edited in order to match their narrative. Of course instances of animal abuse should be investigated and companies should not violate and do their best to follow the law.
However, animal rights groups only use their rhetoric of humane treatment of animals as a tactical talking point. Their ultimate goal is to stop the use of animals for any reason by humans. In this case it is for entertainment purposes.