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December 6, 2011 Published in Letters/Opinions

Ringling Bros. Defends Treatment Of Circus Animals

By: Steve Payne
Vice President, Corporate Communication

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is an American tradition older than even baseball – it has been dubbed America’s National Living Treasure. Unfortunately Representative Jim Moran wants to end that tradition based on allegations from animal extremist groups. For over 141 years, Ringling Bros. and Barnum &Bailey Circus has been showcasing the most amazing talent from around the world:  clowns, jugglers, tightrope walkers and more can all be seen when The Greatest Show On Earth comes to town. Animals have also been an integral part of Ringling Bros.throughout the years and they are consistently one of the main reasons families keep coming back, year after year. And despite Representative Moran’s recent claims, the settlement between Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling Bros., and the U.S. Department of Agriculture clearly demonstrates that a strict regulatory environment is already in place. Legislation like Moran’s recently introduced bill are not needed and are duplicative of laws and regulations that are already in place.

Specifically, Moran’s proposed bill would prevent Ringling Bros. or any other circus, exhibitor, or even educational organizations, from bringing animals to American hometowns. Far from improving animal care, Congressman Moran’s bill is based solely on the extreme ideology of the animal rights movement which seeks to not only control what Americans can see in the circus but what families can eat, what they can wear, and ultimately whether or not they can even keep pets. But Representative Moran seems to have decided that he know what’s best for elephants and other animals even without understanding what it truly takes to care for them.

When Representative Moran united with a retired game show host and a British animal rights group to propose legislation that would spell the end of Ringling Bros. storied history, he ignored the fact that this legislation would impact thousands of jobs and local economies around the country – in every city and state in which Ringling Bros.performs – all in the name of politically motivated, misguided and unnecessary legislation.

This is politics at its worst and it is most unfortunate. If Representative Moran had bothered to meet with us, he would have learned that Ringling Bros. has a team of skilled animal care professional who spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week doing nothing else but taking care of our animals. He also would have learned that Ringling Bros. employs a group of veterinarians who have more knowledge taking care of exotic animals than anyone else. In fact, Ringling Bros. veterinarians are regularly sought out by zoos and other facilities to provide advice and assistance. Representative Moran would have also learned how Ringling Bros. operates in a highly regulated environment, as clearly demonstrated by USDA, state and local governments, with inspections hundreds of time throughout the year.  The recent settlement with USDA shows the system works, despite the erroneous claims by Moran and his animal rights allies.

And finally, if he had met with us, Moran would have learned that Ringling Bros. is dedicated to saving the endangered Asian elephant. The Asian elephant is one of the most endangered animals in the world, and their preservation is something we take seriously. Ringling Bros. created the Center for Elephant Conservation in Central Florida, where we have been fortunate to have 23 Asian elephant births over the past 15 years. All of this would be impossible without the ability to bring out magnificent animals to fans across the country since it is the circus that produces the funds that support the Center and its programs.

It is unfortunate that while other members of Congress are focused on jobs and improving the U.S. economy and could use all the help they can get to make a real difference in the lives of Americans, Congressman Moran seems to have taken the radical animal rights agenda to the forefront of his legislative agenda.  Instead of spending valuable time working on solutions to problems that really matter to most Americans, Representative Moran has taken aim at the circus.  Americans everywhere should let him know that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is a tradition that millions of Americans enjoy and support every year.

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