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Animal Circuses News

Find below local Australian news and other circus related stories. These stories are sourced from external newspapers, government websites, and other third parties. All care is taken to ensure the accuracy. Please refer to the source (listed with each story) for further information.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be coming to town this week. As with nearly every other stop the circus makes, it will be greeted by animal welfare protesters.

But this year, the animal activists have a new reason to complain about how the circus treats its elephants and other animals. A federal judge says the animal groups can now move forward with a blockbuster lawsuit.

Animal welfare groups filed the suit eight years ago and it took all this time to finally get it to court.

Read the court complaint

The trial is set for October. It will give the animal groups a chance to finally prove what they have alleged for many years -- that life in a traveling circus is no life at all for animals, especially endangered Asian Elephants.

"If there was a humane way to have an elephant in a circus, I would still be there. But I just realized there was no humane way to do it," said former circus employee Tom Rider.

Read the injunction

Rider spent more than two years with the Ringling Brothers Circus in managing the dozen or so Asian Elephants which spend their lives being whisked from city to city, performance to performance.

Today, he is one of five plaintiffs in the massive lawsuit filed against the circus for mistreating an endangered species.

Elephants have long been a symbol for Ringling Brothers, which is why circus executives say it is in their financial interest to take the best possible care or their pachyderm meal tickets.

Read the circus' response

But there is considerable evidence to the contrary, including undercover videos recorded of circus trainers using the infamous ankus, or bullhook, a combination club and metal hook which can inflict considerable pain and injury.

In PR statements, the circus has another word for bullhooks. They call them guides, and say they're comparable to a leash on a dog.

Rider says they are hardly benign, "We have video of them using bullhooks over the last 15 years. They've killed four baby elephants. We have documents of that. We have documents of the USDA covering up the death of Benjamin. He was killed with a bullhook."

It's taken eight long years just to get the case to court.

The plaintiffs allege the circus stalled at every step. It took a court order to obtain internal veterinary records and emails. Those records are damning.

Ringling's own vets talk of elephants with multiple abrasions and lacerations from the hooks -- wounds that were covered up with makeup known as wonder dust.

One baby elephant named Kenny was bleeding and sick but was forced to perform anyway. He died.

Tom Rider wrote to owner Ken Feld to warn him that trainers with bullhooks hurt the elephants so badly the animals were bleeding during performances.

Many have been exposed to tuberculosis, which hits elephants much as it does people. A circus vet complained in 2004 that the elephants weren't getting enough water, that the water they did get was polluted with soap and bleach, and that water was withheld on purpose.

"They don't want them to urinate during a performance," said Rider.

The essence of the lawsuit isn't about bullhooks or water, though. It's based on the fundamental belief that life on the road is simply the wrong way to treat an intelligent endangered species.

"Elephants are forced to endure a lifetime of misery for 12 minutes under the big top. That's appalling. It's criminal and it's shameful. The general public has no idea how these animals live. These are wild animals that have to perform on cue every day, day after day. They don't do it because they enjoy it. They do it because they are afraid and are forced to. And if they don't move fast enough for a performance, they get beat the minute they get behind the curtain away from the audience," said animal activist Linda Faso.

Faso says that even if Ringling Brothers treated the elephants with loving care, it is inherently cruel to make them live the life of a traveling circus performer.

"They travel up to 48 to 50 weeks a year in a railroad car -- chained from show to show. That's their home. They don't have a place to live. Ringling's own paper say that sometimes they are chained up to 60 hours on a train, back and front leg. They can't even turn around and move. These are animals that move 25 miles a day, bathe and groom themselves, and they're chained in place. It's criminal," she said.

Tuesday, a look at how the circus has fought back against animal groups, including how it hired the former Director of Covert Operations for the CIA to go after its critics.

PETA exposes Ringling Bros Cruelty

Thanks to PETA's ongoing campaign against documented appalling abuse of elephants in Ringling Bros Circus - 'the saddest show on earth' as PETA rightly calls it - the largest circus in the US has been compelled to answer charges for routinely beating elephants with bullhooks. (PETA has videotaped lame elephants limping out of Ringling's train cars.)
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Bolivia first country in the world to ban wild and domestic animals from travelling circuses

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is delighted that Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has signed a new law to end the use of wild and domestic animals in travelling circuses.
Source: Animal Defenders website
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Source: x
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Time to end this exotic circus farce

A LION sits looking forlorn in a cage while its companions pace up and down, menaced by dogs teasing them outside their enclosure.
Source: Daily Telegraph
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Brazil states proceed with bans

GREAT NEWS - BRAZIL BEGINS BAN ON ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES! Brazil continues to push forward, making sanctuary here more needed than ever. The state of Goias just banned the use of animals in circuses making it the 11th out of 26 states in Brazil to pass such a ban.
Source: x
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Honduras bans all animals from circuses

GREAT NEWS from Honduras - November, 2015. Banning ALL animals from circuses.
Source: x
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Ipswich City Council Bans Circuses with Exotic Animals

Local councillor Paul Tully said the council had voted 6:5 to support a ban, making Ipswich the first council in Queensland to outlaw circuses with exotic animals.
Source: Animals Australia
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Lismore Council cracks the whip on circuses

Lismore City Council will send a clear message that cruelty to animals will not be tolerated in the shire after they voted 6/3 to ban animal circuses from Council-owned land.
Source: The Northern Rivers Echo
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Circus elephant in the middle of jumbo row

A jumbo-sized dispute has broken out over the living conditions of New Zealand's only circus elephant.
Source: stuff.co.nz
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Driver dies as bus hits escaped circus elephant

A BUS has crashed into an escaped circus elephant on a highway in Mexico, killing both the vehicle's driver and the unfortunate animal.
Source: news.com.au
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60 Minutes - The Sanctuary

They're remarkable creatures. Social, intelligent, at times, very human. And just like humans, elephants experience many complex emotions. Which makes our heartless treatment of these beautiful animals all the more confounding. Hunting them to extinction, forcing them to perform in circuses, locking them up in zoos.
Source: 60 Minutes
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Auckland City Council applauded for Rodeo Ban

Rodeos are no longer welcome in New Zealand’s largest city.
Source: Animal Circuses
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Protestors urge city council to ban circus

AN animal welfare group have urged Derry City Council to consider banning animal circuses from performing in the city.
Source: Londonderry Sentinel
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Music Video made about Topsy the Elephant who was purposely electrocuted to death

Award winning Australian animator makes a music video about the tragic story of Topsy The Circus Elephant who was deliberately electrocuted in 1903.
Source: email
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Elephant, camels freed with Jaws of Life

What animals have to endure for our entertainment: Three circus animals had to be rescued by volunteer firefighters after the transport truck carrying them overturned.
Source: CTV.ca
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Circus Lawsuit Moves Forward

Animal activists have a new reason to complain about how the circus treats its elephants and other animals. A federal judge says the animal groups can now move forward with a blockbuster lawsuit. Click here to hear an interview
Source: George Knapp, Chief Investigative Reporter
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CAMDEN Circuses face exotic animal ban

CAMDEN Deputy Mayor Cindy Cagney will ask the council to seek a report on banning from the area circuses using wild and exotic animals.
Source: Macarthur Chronicle
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ADI: Peru set to lead South America with animal circus ban

A year after launching a devastating exposé of the treatment of animals in circuses in South America, Animal Defenders International (ADI) stands on the brink of securing legislation to end this shocking abuse in Peru and Bolivia.
Source: Politics.co.uk
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Elephant kills three in India temple rampage

A WOMAN was among three people killed as an elephant ran amok at a temple.
Source: Daily Telegraph
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Circus Whitewash

The British government's failure to end cruelty to circus animals makes a mockery of the Animal Welfare Act
Source: The Guardian
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ASPCA demands cancellation of TV’S Greatest Show on Earth

The ASPCA has urged Turner Network Television (TNT) to immediately cancel Greatest Show on Earth, its upcoming series that touts a “behind-the-scenes” look at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Source: ASPCA www.aspca.org
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Stardust Circus Trainer killed by elephant

Forensic evidence shows that Arna the Circus Elephant crushed a worker to death.
Source: news.com.au (Daily Telegraph)
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Cork City Council against Animal Circuses

Cork City Council passes a motion to BAN animal act circuses from using council land
Source: Animal Rights Action Network (www.aran.ie)
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ARNA and Gigi to be retired to Western Plains Zoo

Arna and Gigi are leaving Stardust Circus and living out the rest of their lives in peace at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
Source: www.zoo.nsw.gov.au (Taronga Zoo)
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No Ban for Port Stephens

Port Stephens Council voted 4-7 against the ban on circuses with exotic animals.
Source: Port Stephens Examiner
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Animal Circus Ban in Fingal

Fingal County Council supports the ban of circuses which use wild animals
Source: Independent.ie National News
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Lion Tamer Mauled

THREE lions attacked their trainer in front of a packed family audience at a Lennon Bros Circus show at Penrith
Source: Rod Smith, www.news.com.au, circuswatchwa.org
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