Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus has a long history of abusing the animals in its shows. In 2009, PETA caught Ringling's elephant handlers on tape beating the 11 elephants used in the show with bullhooks -- sharp, fireplace pokerlike devices.
Despite some elephants showing signs of severe psychological distress, they are forced to perform every night.
Former Ringling employees have spoken out against the circus' abusive practices and even taken Ringling to court, arguing that the use of bullhooks and other brutal techniques violated federal law.
Tell Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack to seize these elephants, many of whom have only known this abusive captivity. It's time for the USDA to enforce the Animal Welfare Act investigate Ringling's inhumane practices.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
I am writing to ask that the USDA immediately seize the elephants in Ringling Bros.' Red Unit. Undercover video of the unit clearly shows Ringling employees hitting and whipping elephants, sometimes using sharp bullhooks. And one elephant, Tonka, shows persistent signs of mental distress yet is still forced to perform night after night.
Please make sure that Tonka and other elephants in Ringling's custody are not struck or whipped again. Seize them now, and work with PETA to place them in a reputable sanctuary.
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I also ask that the USDA immediately investigate the conduct of Ringling and its employees and vigorously enforce the Animal Welfare Act.
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