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No Sick Days
Animal Rights – The owner of Ringling Bros. circus has agreed to pay a $270,000 fine to settle allegations that it violated federal animal-welfare laws in its handling of elephants, tigers, zebras, and other exotic animals.
Announced this Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the civil penalty is the largest ever levied on an animal exploiter, or exhibitor, under the Animal Welfare Act.
Vienna-based Field entertainment, which owns the circus and other well-known acts such as Disney on Ice, said it “does not admit to violating the law and agreed to the settlement as a cost of doing business to resolve its differences with the USDA.”
“We look forward to working with the USDA in a cooperative and transparent manner that meets our shared goal of ensuring that our animals are healthy and receive the highest quality care,” said a statement released by Kenneth Feld, chief executive officer of Field Entertainment.
In the inspection reports from 2007 to this year, inspectors found that circus handlers refused to give the elephant sick days and forced them to perform, even when they were ill. They also found that the same wheelbarrows were used to feed meat to the tigers and haul away their waste.
An inspection report from August points specifically to one incident, in which a 35-year-old female Asian elephant, Banko, was forced to perform at a show in Los Angeles despite a diagnosis of sand colic. Witnesses also said that Banko appeared to be suffering from abdominal discomfort.
Circus officials defended decision to have Banko perform, and claimed that the elephant is a workaholic and that benching her from the show, and her fellow performing elephants, would have been “even more distressing to her.”
Read more at AP.