Ringling Elephant Trial
Lawsuit Lost on Technicality - Merits of Abuse Not Ruled On

A six-week-long trial against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus on charges that it mistreats its Asian elephants in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) concluded March 18, 2009. The lawsuit alleged that the use of the bullhook and the constant chaining of elephants wounds, harasses and harms the animals. In December 2009 the Judge dismissed the case ruling, not on the merits of the case, that plaintiffs did not have standing - meaning the court did not think they had the right to bring forth the lawsuit. Despite the case being dismissed on this technicality, the evidence produced at trial shows undeniably that these magnificent animals suffer greatly in the name of entertainment.

Ringling's Own Vet Tech Writes: Elephant Handlers Draw Blood

Ringling’s Vet-Tech, Deborah Fahrenbruck, wrote in an e-mail to owner Ken Feld, that an elephant handler, during a show, hooked an elephant under the trunk three times and behind the leg in an attempt to line her up. Fahrenbruck wrote that backstage she saw “blood in small pools dripped along the length of the rubber and all the way inside the barn” and stated “[W]e had an elephant dripping blood all over the arena floor during the show from being hooked.” After telling Elephant Dept. Head, Troy Metzler, she was banned from the elephant barn.

Ringling Says: Hide Elephant Beatings

In 2004, after Bay Area TV stations showed video of a Ringling elephant handler stabbing and jabbing Angelica, a chained 7-year-old elephant, with a bullhook, Ringling’s Vet-Tech, Deborah Fahrenbruck suggested not to stop such attacks but to hide them by putting up a "tent wall." Ringling allows employees to hit and jab elephants and not consider this abuse.

 

Evidence at Trial Shows Ringling Causes Harm To Elephants

 Click here for an overview on the trial.

 Click here to watch a news report overview of the lawsuit.

 Click here for Ringling Trial Court Documents and Exhibits (including video, testimony, etc)