After nearly 150 years, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will permanently close today. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media outlets, like National Public Radio, are making it to be a win for groups such as People for the Extortion, Torture and Abuse of human beings (PETA). The mainstream media alleges that because of protests of alleging mistreatment of animals, it cost the circus money resulting in Ringling Brothers closing it’s doors.
Ringing Brothers’ circuses have been the subject of a decades-long harassment campaign. For example, in 2014, PETA had their day in court to prove their claims — and lost decisively. A judge dismissed their case, finding that animal rights groups had covertly paid their key witness almost $200,000 in which the witness lied under oath.
Ringling Brothers’ parent company, Feld Entertainment, turned around and then sued the activists alleging racketeering and bribery. Field later collected almost $16 million in settlement money from groups like the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
However, the claim that the circus will close because of animal rights groups’ harassment is disputed by Feld Entertainment and, most likely, is a lie. Back in January, Feld Entertainment CEO, Kenneth Feld, held a press conference in order to respond to animal rights groups claiming victory for the circus’s unfortunate demise.
The Felds state that ticket sales have dropped for the past 10 years and rising labor costs were a factor in their decision. Public sentiment also turned against them using certain methods in animal discipline, such as using bull hooks on elephants. Some cities (like Asheville, North Carolina) even outlawed the use of certain types of animals in city-owned facilities in entertainment acts. Animal rights protests were a factor but not the only one. Ultimately, time worked against Ringling Brothers Circuses so it made no sense for Feld Entertainment to keep operating the circus.
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.
Despite Ringling Brothers shutting down, there are other circuses and PETA et all have targeted them too. 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. The next time a circus that uses animals is about to perform near you or you go to an animal-oriented entertainment venue (like Sea World), please attend one of their shows. Then send PETA, the ASPCA, or the Humane Society a copy of your purchase receipt as a way to protest their harassment campaigns.