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The Ringling Brothers Circus

Updated on April 9, 2015

Has PETA's Media Coverage Been Unfair to 'The Greatest Show on Earth'?

Even as a child, I was always afraid of the circus. The clowns with their frozen, manic expressions and noisy high jinks were never to be trusted. (Just ask Stephen King.) I wasn't coulrophobic, but pretty close. The alarming rumors concerning how exotic animals such as my favorite Asian elephants are regularly abused were a far greater concern. This has since been largely due to the media negativity from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) that focuses on Ringling Brothers. PETA certainly doesn't clown around when it comes to their hatred of this circus.

So you can imagine my reservations when a good friend invited me to see "The Greatest Show on Earth" perform at the TD Garden Fleet Center in Boston. That day was full of surprises. I reluctantly accepted my friend's invitation and, thanks to a friend of my friend, we were also invited backstage before the show began. Initially, I thought of declining the backstage invitation; we were the only visitors, and my rumor-driven imagination was conjuring up Jumanji images of chaos and frightened animals running amok. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, I was thankful we decided to spend that time in the wings. As a result of seeing much of what goes on behind the scenes, how well these animals are treated and meeting performers and staff, I sat through the entire show with both appreciation and delight.

When we first passed through the doors of the huge backstage area, we could not only smell the animals, but the odors of fresh straw, hay and produce that assaulted the senses. I was amazed – and yes, a little shocked -- to see the well-organized and efficient manner with which everything was handled. (We should send some of these people to Washington.) I also met one of the clowns -- in human form without makeup -- and am happy to report to my almost-coulrophobic friends that he was truly a delightful fellow. I was particularly impressed with the warm, friendly professionalism of the veterinarians, trainers and other staff members. You could clearly see the concern and affection they have for their animals, and the care and trust these animals have for them in return.

We first visited the tigers and learned that one of the older cats had been recently taken to a nearby veterinarian teaching hospital to remove an abscessed tooth. (You don't get that kind of care in the bush.) My jaw literally dropped when the trainer bent down near the opening of the bars to a huge enclosure and talked softly to one of the cats as if she were a kitten. We later learned that the trainer signals these tigers to snarl and roar while performing in the ring. A good trainer will keep a close eye on their animals’ body language to anticipate what they may do before they actually do it. Animals -- domestic or otherwise -- can feed off of our moods and sense when something is amiss...this is especially true with cats.

The next stop on our unofficial tour was a large area where a number of portable, paddock-like structures were set up to house the horses that performed in the show. These were not small or cramped stalls; they were roomy areas laden with fresh straw. Some of the horses came right up to me, and I was able stroke their necks without hesitation. They were healthy, well-fed and groomed, and had room to stretch and get a bit of exercise. I was surprised to see the grooms immediately clean any area the horses soiled and replace it with fresh straw.


We then proceeded to another section in the vast facility where I was anxious to see my favorite exotics, the Asian elephants. We found the females strolling about a huge rectangular-shaped exercise area. No guys -- just the gals. The adult males, or bulls, usually do not perform in the circus. They can be very aggressive with the females and injure them…especially, when they are in the throes of breeding musth. Males also fight amongst themselves so it is safer to maintain a post-puberty gender distance. Unlike male Asian elephants, most females do not have external tusks and are very familial and social. In the wild, family groups usually consist of a matriarch, sisters, aunts, mothers, daughters and infant males. Tragically, their numbers have been dramatically reduced by poachers and the destruction of their natural habitats.

Ringling makes an effort to exercise and socialize their elephants at every opportunity while traveling. These elephants also spend time at Ringling’s 200-acre Elephant Conservation and Research Center in Florida where most of them retire. At the Boston Fleet Center, they co-mingled with other elephants freely. There were small logs and other objects they could use as toys. The area's perimeter was filled with fresh hay. When I asked the veterinarian about the huge bins of fresh produce being wheeled about, she explained that after performing for several minutes in the ring, the elephants are always treated to one of their favorite mixtures of apples, whole grains and other produce. (I can tell you, firsthand, this produce is fresher than what we plebeians are offered at the supermarket.)

As the elephant trainer walked toward us, his charges started to follow him alongside the area perimeter. We laughed and pointed to the large fan club gathering behind him. He turned to look back, laughed good-naturedly and held up his hand to quietly motion them to stop. The ladies immediately came to a dutiful halt but looked after him as if to ask, “Where are you going?” I noticed that none of these animals formed a defensive position or looked in the least bit threatened. Elephants are also very tactile. In the exercise area, they would sometimes touch each other with their trunks or foreheads as if expressing friendship and affection.

Remember the grooms who kept the paddocks clean? In the elephant’s area, whenever one started to relieve herself, a groom would quietly rush up and hold a large bucket beneath her to catch as much as he could and as quickly as possible. What little actually did hit the floor, he instantly covered with a dry, non-toxic substance that was absorbent and swept up into the bucket as well. He repeated this floor cleaning process until the area was spotless. The elephants didn’t give him a second glance; it was as if this rather unique concierge service was expected and very routine. They nonchalantly munched on their hay or ambled away when they had both completed their respective tasks.

Seeing these beautiful and sensitive creatures up close, one is immediately struck by their intelligence. There's a lot going on behind those expressive eyes. The trainer invited us inside the perimeter where we were introduced to an older elephant I will refer to in this article as “Audrey.” We stood close to her as we stroked her trunk, and she was kind enough to pose for photos. Audrey, we learned, is a bit of a diva. She likes to paint pictures by holding a brush with her trunk and painting forms on a blank canvass, but can become a little annoyed when another female does the same. Audrey is rather territorial when it comes to her art and doesn’t like to share the limelight -- or the rewards.

By the way, these elephants were all “au naturel,” meaning none of them were in costume. I didn’t see any "wonder dust" anywhere or any injuries. Elephants are surprising agile considering their substantial girth. They are cat-nappers, and lay down on their sides when they sleep for brief periods, sporadically, throughout the evening and/or at intervals during the day. In the wild, they stand up on their hind legs while leaning their front legs on the trunks of the trees to reach higher growing vegetation.

Ringling's Center for Elephant Conservation
Ringling's Center for Elephant Conservation

The majority of Ringling’s elephants do not perform or travel with the circus and remain at their home at the 200-acre center. Only elephants that demonstrate both the temperament and inclination to perform and travel actually do, and only if there is a spot available. These elephants know dozens of words and commands. Trainers/handlers often talk to them as a form of reassurance and comfort while in the ring or during their elephant walks.

Getting our domestic animals to do what we want doesn’t always run like clockwork. For example, when my cat is in one of her very rare, sulky moods, she will jump on the living room coffee table she knows is off limits. If I say, “no,” a word she knows quite well, she’ll look at me with her “what’s the big problem eyes” and refuse to budge. I have no intention of rewarding this behavior with the usual strokes and cuddles. So, I lightly pat her behind with a couch pillow to remind her that coffee table squatting is a big no-no, and off she goes. This isn’t possible when dealing with several tons of elephant.

Ringling trainers/handlers use the bull hook guide (ankus) that has been utilized for centuries in India. These are guides, not weapons of torture. Abuse is as intolerable as it is unusual, and the perpetrator can face serious consequences from Ringling. The first rule in good training or handling is that there should be no pain automatically associated with it unless you want to risk ending up with a full-grown elephant that may be a constant, untrustworthy and uncompromising threat. Anyone who says otherwise is some kind of nut. Training is based on the reward system.

Is Ringling the perfect world for these beloved pachyderms? What world is for this endangered species? In the wild, elephants migrate or wander in search for water and food in lands that can barely sustain them in a rapidly changing world. They face dangers from droughts, man, disease and even themselves. Tigers are a continuing threat to the Asian elephant calves. On preserves or sanctuaries, they can face different sets of rules that have included culling or killing as well as breeding impediments to circumvent overpopulation. Nor are they provided with extensive medical and research facilities. The key to their survival is educating people to be aware of elephants as an important natural resource and cultural treasure.

The Ringling of today is certainly a far cry from the Water for Elephants days, and is not the “death circus” that routinely beats their animals PETA portrays through the media. Far from it. Unfortunately, these negative stories get repeated from one media outlet to another. Equally disconcerting is the fact that the media rarely reports anything about Ringling’s proactive involvement in animal conservation and care, or as the co-founder of the International Elephant Foundation that is committed to positive change for the facilitation of elephant conservation and protection. Here again, it appears the media hype echoes that industry's tried and true adage that headlines sell better if they are fraught with negativity and drama. .

Ringling Conservation Center Elephant Nursery
Ringling Conservation Center Elephant Nursery

In accordance with the Endangered Species and Animal Welfare Acts, the US Dept. of Agriculture makes routine, unannounced inspections on a regular basis to ensure that circuses like Ringling are operating in compliance with established standards. These Acts protect certain animals from inhumane treatment or neglect. Compliance failures result in the exhibitor’s inability to either obtain and/or renew the mandatory licensing. If Ringling had failed these inspections, they wouldn’t be exhibiting and I wouldn’t be writing this article. Only last year, Ringling won a lawsuit that allegedly accused them of abusing their elephants. In 2006, PETA lost their lawsuit alleging that Ringling had conspired to infiltrate and harm their operations.

Don't get me wrong; I’m an animal lover who happens to support PETA’s more positive aspirations. Standards must be maintained and animal cruelty should never be tolerated. However, PETA’s and other animal activists’ goals to prohibit horses from being be bridled, saddled or ridden; abolish all zoos and animals in circuses; and drain the pools and tanks at Sea World are collectively extreme. That being said, PETA should give credit where credit is due, and not attempt to deliberately paint a false and grotesque picture of Ringling in order to achieve these goals. Audrey wouldn’t like it...and neither should we.

In the final analysis, I believe PETA does a great injustice to the Ringling staff members who genuinely care about these animals: Those veterinarians, trainers, handlers and other animal stewards who love and understand them, and devote much of their lives to their care, protection and conservation. I only wish others could see what I have observed, and know what I have learned and continue to discover about these caring and dedicated professionals. Perhaps it is time to remind ourselves that ethical treatment not only applies to animals; it applies to people as well.

 © 2011  Genna East  All Rights Reserved

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    • profile image

      jon79 6 years ago

      Another excellent article about the influence of the media. Fair, balanced and well written. Personally I don’t think many people put too much stock in what PETA says anymore but your points were well taken. Although I am another not-on-the-hub fan -- please keep writing! The sotry on Gibson was great.

    • profile image

      Maya 6 years ago

      I learned a lot from this hub Genna. The links to the conservation center and foundation are wonderful. I never knew Ringling was involved in these efforts.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Jon and Maya

      Thanks, Jon and Maya. As I said in this article, I wish people could see the love and care the animal stewards have for these animals...it is truly amazing.

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 6 years ago

      Thanks for a wonderful hub. I have always loved R&B circus, and I am so glad you discovered they are doing good work. Now, if only I could convince my kids to still go with me. Seems they have outgrown it, but me -- never.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Wonderful write up of your first hand experience. Rated it up and useful. Great job.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you, Denise!

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Sally; I appreciate your post. I never imagined myself enjoying this circus, but it was wonderful.

    • profile image

      KittyMack 6 years ago

      Genna - I heard about this article on Facebook. Very well written, and a great story. I didn't think that there were others that were afraid of clowns besides me. Loved the part about the elephants. Is there a term for people who are afraid of PETA? Lol. There should be...they take things to extremes!

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thanks, Kitty. And Facebook visitors are more than welcome! I don't know if PETA has a fear-term similar to coulrophobic, but who knows. :-)

    • Scribenet profile image

      Scribenet 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for this article Genna!

      This is great that Ringling Brothers takes such great care of its animals, as we take care our own pets! I especially liked your observations of the animals themselves and how they responded to their handlers!

      Animals trust those that care for them! Now I will feel good about going to a Ringling Brothers circus, if one happens in town!

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you Scrib. It was wonderful to see the affection and trust these animals had for these people. It was truly an amazing experience.

    • profile image

      AnnieW 6 years ago

      Thumbs up and kudos, Genna, on this wonderful article. It is such a pleasure to hear about the treatment these animals receive. I loved reading about your up close and personal experiences with the elephants too! Thanks for the link to the conservation center.

    • profile image

      LALou 6 years ago

      Excellent article!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Good information, my friend. I never seen the circus before. I just saw this through my television. Thanks for writing this hub. I really enjoy your story about this circus. I am glad to see this in person. Good work and vote up. Love and peace...

      Prasetio

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      DanWW 6 years ago

      Hello Genna! I’ve been a Facebook follower ever since you wrote that superb expose on the media and it’s targeted treatment of Gibson. This article is just as good. It is so refreshing to see someone take an intelligent stand on issues like this – in particular, a fellow New Englander! (SE Mass. here.) Please keep writing.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      I surely agree with you. I think the people of PETA need to go out into the jungle and see what it's really like out there. Your article is beautiful. Well written and concise. Thank you for a great read.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @AnnieW & LA Lou

      Thank you for your comments. The Conservation Center is a marvel; I only wish more people knew about the work they do.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @DanWW

      Hi Dan; I remember you from the other media article. Good to see you again, and thank you for your supportive comments -- from one New Englander to another!

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @prasetio30 & James

      Hi there; thanks for stopping by, for your comments, and for the vote of confidence. Look forward to reading your hubs!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, Genna, I haven't been to a circus since I was a small child, and this is great to know, I have also been to good zoos and bad, so nobody can categorise these sort of places under a bad name, really interesting, thanks nell

    • profile image

      Christina91827365 6 years ago

      i was for PETA but I agree that they are over-reacting on a lot of things

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Nell

      I agree with you. There are good zoos and bad; hopefully we can encourage PETA to act more responsibly in some of their efforts. I do support them, but their attck on ringlng is unfair.

      @Christina

      I'm with you!

      Thank you both for stopping by and commenting.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      This is great information, and even more valuable coming from your personal experience.It is good to hear that they take good care of their animals! Thanks for this great read!

    • profile image

      JayB 6 years ago

      Hello Genna from Facebook

      Excellent article -- as always!

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      JayB: Hello again. Facebook is always welcome to hubpages, and I appreciate your comment.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thoughtforce: Thank you. Their treatment of their animals is not at all what PETA is trying to portray through the media.

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Very well done hub! I remember going to the circus at Madison Square Garden as a girl. I didn't like the circus for the same reasons you didn't. I found it a little creepy and let's not talk about the clowns. I feel better to know that the animals are treated well; but I still feel bad for them, as this is not their natural habitat. Voted up!

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @2besure

      Thank you for your vote of confidence. I understand what you are saying about their natural habitat. I don’t how much longer any of them will have any modicum of safety in natural habitats the way things are going.

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I know. The only thing you could do is to retire them to a nice zoo.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @2besure Good point! Some zoos are not as good as others. That’s why I’m so pleased to see the elephants at Ringling’s huge conservation center. It has hundreds of acres and is wonderful.

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      I enjoyed this Hub and kind of see all sides (I think). This is going to sound kind of pathetic, but whenever the Circus came to Boston my mother wouldn't bring us (when she otherwise made sure we saw/did all the other "usual" things of childhood). She just didn't approve of it - even when back then. Regardless of whether there's merit or validity to such concerns, I don't think it's just PETA who has them. They do voice them "louder", though.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thanks for your comment, Lisa. I know there are other people who have voiced concerns about Ringling; I used to be one of them. That is until I had this experience and continue to learn more about this organization. I can't speak for other circuses and zoos, but if someone had told me I would change my opinion of Ringling a year ago, I never would have believed them.

    • Don Simkovich profile image

      Don Simkovich 6 years ago from Pasadena, CA

      This is quite a unique Hub. That must have been fascinating to go backstage. It's been several years since I was at a Ringling Bros Circus in LA. Good to hear the animals are well-cared for.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thanks, Don. It was both fascinating and amazing. Thank you for your comment.

    • attemptedhumour profile image

      attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

      Hi Genna, I have a friend here in Melbourne who cried when he was told he had to become a musician rather than a biologist. He's from Georgia in the former Soviet Union, so he had no choice. He recently visited India to attend a conference and also visited a rural area where Jim Corbett, a famous writer, environmentalist and animal lover had to slay a man-eating tiger. Of course Jim Corbett's principles were severely tested, but unfortunately it appears he no choice at the time. Jim Corbett wrote a book about his experiences with large cats in the early fifties and it became the number one worldwide bestseller. Joseph visited the site where Jim Corbett clashed with the Tiger and found the exact spot. There was a controversial debate about this location and Joseph was able to take photos to prove Jim Corbett's version of the events. Joseph also befriended a giant Tiger named Mars who was in the Tiblisi zoo. He could hand feed it and stroke it through the bars. Not very safe and since rectified. Tigers are very social animals and there are apparently 10,000 in the US kept as pets, with only one fatality in the whole of last year. One too many of course, but dog attacks would be substantial. Anyway sorry for rambling on, i'm glad your faith in the circus was restored. My wife is an avid animal actvist, fighting for Whales, Bears etc. Nice hub. From sunny Melbourne.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @attemptedhumor

      Thanks for your visit and supportive comments; your information is interesting as well. I learned quite a bit regarding how trainers actually train their cats. For example, a good trainer will observe his animals to learn which tiger, for example, likes to climb and balance, while others prefer to “shadow box.” The “fighting” we see is only their version of mock play...they are not fighting at all. The whip is never meant to threaten or harm, but to teach the cat that the trainer will defend him or herself if the cat attacks; rather, it is a tool of respect.

    • profile image

      stan_jb 6 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading this! I used to work for Ringling in the animal department. I took care of the zebras and horses. Its nice to see someone actually writing something true about how the animals are handled and treated. I get so upset when I read an article about how bad the animals are treated and making it sound like the people abuse them constantly. No one knows how deeply the people care, love and treat all the animals. You form a special bond with the animals when you work so closely with them on a daily basis. I still wish I was working there and I miss the zebras terribly. Thank you for a wonderful article about the circus!

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Satn_jb

      Thank YOU! I am so happy to hear from someone else who actually knows the care and love these animals receive. Those disingenuous and crazy stories are more than annoying and appear to be manufactured to serve an agenda. Bless you. :)

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I loved this behind the scenes visit to Ringling Brothers Circus. I remember going to the circus many years ago and becoming fascinated with the roust-abouts. Watching them prepare the floor for various shows. Sometimes behind the scenes can be as interesting as the show itself!

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Dolores Thanks for the comment, Dolores. We also had the opportunity to watch them set up behind stage; their organization is amazing as well.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Geena, I used to love going to the circus. I wa never afraid of the circus but I had a daughter that was. As for the animals, my understanding is that the trainers loved their animals so much thaty treated them better than they treated themselves. Great job.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Koffee

      Hello and thank you! Yes, they do take wonderful care of these animals. I appreciate your kind thoughts and for taking the time to read this article. Good to see you.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks for beautiful, moving and important article Genna. Thank you also for your positive "expose" of the "Greatest Show on Earth".

      I may be "green" but I have gone off PETA entirely. I'm tired of their self-serving, sexist, unfounded lie. I have flagged them (softly) on HP and more vehemently on my savvyexaminer blog.

      Your day at the circus reminded me of the wonderful eye-opening summer I spent at Zoo Atlanta producing a program special that promoted the merits of a zoo well tended..and its very happy, productive animal residents.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Green

      Thank you! That day behind the scenes (and what I continue to learn about these animal stewards and endangered species), was truly an eye opener. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the show had I not learned of this. There is so much we don’t know – thanks to the drama laden sound bites of the media – which we should know.

      Some zoos are better than others; it sounds like you found one of the good ones. :-)

      Good to see you, Green.

    • Silver Poet profile image

      Silver Poet 5 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      Awesome hub. I am so glad to know how well these animals are treated. :)

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you, Silver. I was both surprised and pleased by what I found.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Genna, I was delighted to read your article and learn of your first-hand experience seeing these Circus animals and their treatment. We grew up looking forward to seeing "The Greatest Show on Earth" and I had some strong concerns after seeing one elephant chained behind a tent (30) years ago. It's good to know that Ringling Bros. supports a reward system for their training program. Voted all the way up here.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Peg. Thank you. I had those same concerns, but was amazed at the care these animals receive. Granted, there are isolated incidents of abuse; but those are rare, and not to the extent to which they have been exaggerated by PETA and the media. Handlers who commit these acts are fired, and are blackballed. When healthy and content animals that don't know you walk right up to you, and are not afraid of their trainers, you know they're doing something right. :-)

    • WhiteMuse profile image

      M Ziel 3 years ago from San Francisco

      The public wants to think that Ringling is nice to the animals. The truth is not as nice as they always think it is. PETA can be strange but I think they are right about the circus. Ringling has had a verdict against it regarding the elephants. It is not always easy to see how a circus or other institution cares for their animals. There was a trainer in the lawsuit against them before. Animals have died needlessly. The tricks are unnatural acts for the animals.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I’m afraid I have to respectfully disagree. Tom Rider, the former elephant trainer and plaintiff that you mentioned, was one of the reasons the court found that the plaintiffs lacked standing, and why they ended up paying Ringling over $15mil in a settlement. Rider was paid a lot of money to testify against Ringling and then lied about the payments. The court also found that his stories were “less than credible.”

      I’m sorry, but I think PETA is more than strange at times. The spend tons of money in PR ads against zoos and Ringling, yet do not have enough funds to protect and care for the many animals they euthanize each year. Those are needless deaths. It is well known that this organization has been criticized during the past few years for their “high kill rate.”

      I honestly used to think as you do until first-hand experience and knowledge taught me differently. When I was sitting in the audience during the elephants’ brief performance, a woman sitting behind me complained about the elephants laying down in that they would suffocate, and that this was an unnatural position. These elephants sleep laying down frequently; it’s how they sleep. They take at cat naps often.

      I do thank you for your comment, and appreciate your visit and taking the time to read this article. Take care. :-)

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Ooops -- one thing i forgot to add or amend...Tom Rider was a handler, not a trainer.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I have great memories of the circus when I was a kid. I love that you gave your opinion on this matter, and I agree with it. Circuses, as long as they are humane, serve a valuable purpose I believe. What great memories kids grow up with.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Billy...thanks so much for taking the time to read through this lengthy article, and for your thoughtful comment. I agree...as long as they are humane, they are wonderful! Good to see you.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 21 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Genna, it stands to reason that a company that wants to make money with a circus would want to take good care of the livestock.

    • Genna East profile image
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      Genna East 21 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you for that insightful comment. Ringling has decided to phase out the elephants in the circus due to the negativity of PETA, etc. They will stay at Ringling's 200-acre conservation center in Florida, 24/7, it seems. I remember standing quite close to Audrey when I was backstage at Ringling, stroking her trunk and talking to her. She was so sweet and gentle -- and I was a perfect stranger. Not exactly the behavior from an animal one would expect if it has been treated cruelly by human hands -- especially an elephant. I will treasure those few minutes for the rest of my life. I'm only saddened that others won't be able to.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 13 days ago

      Thank you for the backstage view. I hope Ringling appreciates your honesty in this article.

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