Animals in Entertainment Friday: Best and Worst Circus Elephant Links

All the links* about yesterday’s exciting news in one place! Including the ones that quote the Alliance! And ranked for how animal rights-friendly they are! h/t to Melissa Tedrowe of HSUS-WI who is a linkmaster EXTRAORDINAIRE

*okay, not really. But definitely some of them!

N.B.  All images are from the linked stories.

The Best of the Best

Category: The Best Video for Dane County Citizens to Watch

Winner 1:   Channel 3000: Elephants to Depart Greatest Show on Earth (video + text)

WKOW clip

Summary: Dane County citizens will get way pumped up about passing that legislation NOW. Also the only article to mention the ongoing investigation of this recent circus.

+ 1,000,000,000 for this

“Something like this shows that people are ready for this change right now. They are ready nationwide. They are definitely ready in somewhere it’s progressive and humane, like Dane County,” said Hannah West, executive director of Alliance for Animals.

and this

West said the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has an open investigation into the George Carden Circus that comes to Dane County.

The department began the investigation after the circus submitted an incorrect permit to DATC. According to the department, the permit did not account for one of the elephants used to perform and for forced elephant rides.

+1 for our blog being TV FAMOUS

VELENA YOU ARE KILLING IT! This is perfect! Follow Velena on facebook here.

Winner 2:       WKOW: UPDATE: Circus world aims to keep elephants in performances (video + text)

WKOW actually video

Summary: Ends the story by talking about the 2020 ban, which makes it another perfect local choice.

+ 1,000,000,000 for this

“The way that these animals are trained is not by bribing them with peanuts or anything, the way that you train your dog, because they’re wild animals, they can’t be trained unless they’re made afraid of something, unless they’re harmed and they’re hurt,” says Hannah West, with Alliance for Animals and the Environment.

West tells 27 News she was amazed to see Ringling Bros. make the decision and she says it sends the right message that animal acts are not acceptable entertainment.

and this

West’s group helped push Dane County’s Board of Supervisors to keep elephants out of circus acts in the area. In 2012, the board banned elephant performances in county buildings. Zor Shrine Circus performs every year at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. The Shriners have a contract with the county through 2020 that allows the circus to keep the elephant act until then.

Shout out to ELF and Al Matano, though!

YAY JENNIFER! Thank you for choosing super great quotes and including the information about Elephant Free Dane County! Follow Jennifer on facebook here.

Category: Best Article to Balance Out These Other News Articles’ Falsehoods

Winner:       Great Lakes Echo: Circus elephant phase-out praised by regional animal rights groups (text)

Summary: Dallas Rising clarifies “retirement facility” and gives a shout out to the other wild animals in the circus; reinforces the Dallas shaped space in my heart.

+ 1,000,000,000 for Dallas Rising! Woohoo! Love her! She lays it DOWN about that “retirement facility”:

The repeated use of the word “retirement” describing the elephants’ lives post-circus is misleading, Rising said. “We tend to think of retirement as a vacation, that’s not the deal for these elephants.”

Rising said that during the elephants’ retirements on the 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation, scientists use the elephants for research purposes.

“While it’s good elephants won’t be travelling around with the circus, my concern is that Ringling will use this as an opportunity to spin what they’re doing to be kinder than it actually is,” said Rising.

According to the center’s website, researchers there perform “ground-breaking research in assisted reproduction in Asian elephants.”

Ringling Bros. plans to eventually open the Conservation Center to the public, according to Rising. “They’ll still be profiting off of the elephants.”

Rising called Ringling’s announcement “a limited victory.” “It’s a step in the right direction, and it’s great that all the years of education around the issue is starting to pay off.”

AND Dallas is the first one to mention the other animals (because she is perfect and amazing and everything):

“It’s frustrating that it’s just about the elephants,” said Rising. “Elephants have been the poster-children for animals in the circus – they’ve been an effective one, but other animals have been forgotten.”

Way to tell the truth, Amanda! And way to include the indomitable Dallas as well as the Alliance! Yeah! See Amanda’s other stories here.

Also Pretty Good

Category: Best National Coverage, Overall

Winner:       AP: Ringling Bros. to give up elephant acts in 3 years (text)

Summary: For local and mainstream, this is pretty great! Lots of animal rights sources, specifics on ordinances, and the only article to mention animal free circus alternatives.

+ 1 for specifics on local ordinances, PETA quote, Carol Bradley, mention of Blackfish (!), AND specifics on how Blackfish has affected SeaWorld (!!), local animal activist quote, mention of animal free circus alternative Cirque de Soleil, specifics on how human circus performers will be showcased, this phrasing (emphasis mine)

For now, animals remain part of this circus

AND for showing the true colors of Feld’s plan for the retirement center:

Kenneth Feld said initially the center will be open only to scientists and others studying the Asian elephant, but he “hopes it expands to something the public will be able to see.”

+0 for extended explanation of the HSUS lawsuit. Not sure whether it’s better or worse to include this information:

The initial lawsuit was filed by a former Ringling barn helper who accepted at least $190,000 from animal-rights groups. The judge called him “essentially a paid plaintiff” who lacked credibility and standing to sue, and rejected the abuse claims.

also, this juxtaposition (emphasis mine):

We’re not reacting to our critics; we’re creating the greatest resource for the preservation of the Asian elephant,” Kenneth Feld told The Associated Press as he broke the news that the last 13 performing elephants will retire by 2018, joining 29 other pachyderms at the company’s 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida.

But Feld acknowledged that because so many cities and counties have passed “anti-circus” and “anti-elephant” ordinances, it’s difficult to organize tours of three traveling circuses to 115 cities each year. Fighting legislation in each jurisdiction is expensive, he said.

-1 for this phrase:

Animal rights groups took credit…but Ringling Bros.’ owners described it as the bittersweet result of years of internal family discussions.

Also, for a photo slideshow that doesn’t show any elephant training abuse.

Category: Best Mainstream Coverage With Opportunities for Public to Learn More About Elephant Treatment In Circus

Winner:     Washington Post: The long battle to remove elephants from the Ringling Bros. circus (AP video + original text)

AP video

Summary: Lots of links! Begins by telling the stories of individual elephants, and is the only article to trace back the history of the animal rights movement against circus elephants. I learned something!

AP video ratings as below.

+1 stories of individual elephants, mention of the Mother Jones article (SO GOOD READ IT NOW), A TON of links to PETA information about elephant training abuse, mention of Blackfish (!), AND specifics on how Blackfish has affected SeaWorld (!!), specifics on local ordinances, interview with Wayne Pacelle

– 1 for misconstruing the conservation center as a retirement facility for the elephants, not questioning the circus’ choice to continue with other wild animals still included (if the laws limit exotic animals, shouldn’t that affect their choices about tigers and camels, too?), this phrase

The tension between the two sides — groups that say the elephants are being badly mistreated and the famous circus company that insists its trainers have always treated the animals like their own children — will finally come to an end in 2018

because NOPE, we still got (veggie) beef with them.

 The Mediocre

Category: The “Yeah, it’s probably not a problem if you just interview the Felds and no one else” Award

Winner:    AP: Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts (video)

AP video

+1 for including a man of color as the Ringmaster! – 1 for using women as decoration.

Summary: All Felds, all the time.

+ 1 for some video and pictures of activists, for extended interview with Alana Feld talking about their difficulties in fighting legal battles (go activists!)

– 1 for only interviewing the Felds and no one else, for misconstruing the conservation center as a retirement facility for the elephants, not questioning the circus’ choice to continue with other wild animals still included (if the laws limit exotic animals, shouldn’t that affect their choices about tigers and camels, too?),

Category: Great Video, Not Great Text

Winner:    NBC: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Phasing Out Elephant Acts (video + text)

NBC video

Summary: The video has a lot of really great footage of elephant training abuses, an animated map with the ordinances, interview with Wayne Pacelle. The text has a lot of really crummy things, including a statement about the Felds “saving the Asian elephant.”

+ 1 for showing extended video of elephant training abuses, citing the reason as a growing number of local ordinances limiting what the circuses can do (go activists!) AND showing an animated map with the ordinances, interview with Wayne Pacelle referring to this as the “Berlin Wall moment, ” citing the recent $270,000 settlement.

– 1 for misconstruing the conservation center as a retirement facility for the elephants, not questioning the circus’ choice to continue with other wild animals still included (if the laws limit exotic animals, shouldn’t that affect their choices about tigers and camels, too?), text below the video including Feld’s bizarre statement about their focus on “saving the Asian elephant” without question.

The Worst, Worst, WORST

Category: Sponsored by Feld, Inc

Winner:     NPR: Ringling Bros. Says No More Circus Elephants By 2018 (video by Feld + text)

Summary: NPR, my liberal bastion, I expected more from you.

I guess the text was okay but

– 1,000,000,000 FOR THE INCLUDED VIDEO BEING PROPAGANDA BY FELD ABOUT THE ELEPHANT CONSERVATION CENTER INSTEAD OF, LIKE, JOURNALISM. That said, I did get to learn a lot about the elephant conservation center, and even in a propaganda video, there are some heartbreaking statements like “the elephants are so well trained that the scientists can come right up to them.” (Because you know how that training happens. I’m so sorry, my elephant friends.)

Category: What just happened?

Winner:        NPR: Animal-Rights Advocates Cheer End of Elephants in Circus (audio)

NPR clip

Summary: I just don’t even know.

+ 1 for learning more about elephants and how they play and communicate!, talking to an animal rights lawyer!, specifics of circus life for elephants, chalking it up to “successful public education” (go advocacy orgs!)

– 1,000,000,000 for this interchange:

SIEGEL: You’ve mentioned that a better outcome for these elephants than the Barnum & Bailey Center in Florida would be zoos. Do you accept that there are good zoos that – while that may not be the ideal life for an elephant – it’s a valid educational institution and a zoo can treat elephants well?

MEYER: Some zoos can do that. There are – it’s very – it’s all relative. There are some wonderful zoos. The Oakland Zoo does a wonderful job of taking care of its elephants and allowing them to engage in natural behaviors and doesn’t hit them, doesn’t chain them.

What.

Inspector: Circus World elephant had ‘thin body’ : Wsj

BARABOO — An animal rights group is calling on Circus World Museum to re-examine its use of performance elephants after a federal inspector found an animal at the facility had “thin body condition.”

But a veterinarian says the animal is not sick. She says Nina, a 50-year-old circus elephant, always has had a slender body composition.

During an unannounced visit to Baraboo in August, a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector noticed that Nina’s “hip bones and shoulder blades were visible,” documents show.

The animal’s handler told the inspector that a veterinarian examined Nina in April. The handler said the elephant was receiving appropriate care.

However, Carson and Barnes was unable to produce medical records or put the inspector in touch with the veterinarian. Because handlers are required to have such records readily available, the inspector found Carson and Barnes Circus — which contracts with Circus World — to be noncompliant.

A USDA spokeswoman said Friday the federal agency has not been able to determine what caused Nina’s thinness.

“We were not provided access to the medical records, so we are not able to determine that,” USDA spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said.

The USDA will conduct an unannounced follow-up inspection at a later date and then determine the appropriate course of action, Espinosa said. Read more here:

Inspector: Circus World elephant had ‘thin body’ : Wsj.

Circus World animals to get more scrutiny

WHY IS THIS BEING REPORTED NOW?

Why wasn’t this news reported when Circus World was open for business and giving elephant rides to children?

See letter from September 2 regarding the potential TB exposure. Illegally imported elephants pose risk at Circus World

It is time to stop the use of elephants as entertainment.

BARABOO — Animals brought in to perform at Circus World Museum will be under more scrutiny than in past years.

The decision comes on the heels of an elephant owner who brought four elephants without an import permit to Circus World this summer.

Dr. Paul McGraw, an assistant state veterinarian with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said any exotic animal that comes into the state is required to have the permit. The elephants’ owner, Louie J. Delmoral, received a warning in late June.

Then a U.S. Department of Agriculture animal health technician and a DATCP field veterinarian said that one of the elephants was not eligible for travel or public contact in Wisconsin. The same elephant was exposed to another elephant that was suffering from tuberculosis at Carson and Barnes Circus in Oklahoma, according to a DATCP report in July.

It was determined the elephant at CWM be removed from Wisconsin or stay with the other three elephants in Baraboo as long as it didn’t have contact with the public.

Dr. Elisabeth Patton, a veterinarian program manager with DATCP, said there is no evidence that the elephant in Baraboo was sick with tuberculosis.

“Based on the medical testing and the increased level of monitoring given to it, the elephant didn’t pose a threat to the public,” Patton said.

McGraw said Delmoral did not violate any USDA rules.

“We just felt it was prudent for the elephant to stay in Wisconsin until they were ready to move,” he said.

There was no danger to anyone who came in contact with the elephant, McGraw said.

“There’s never been a case where an elephant gave a human tuberculosis,” Delmoral said. “We operate under very strict USDA guidelines.”

Delmoral, who has been training and showing elephants for 30 years, said he would not have been at CWM this past season if he was not in compliance.

“The USDA would not allow it,” he said.

CWM Executive Director Steve Freese said he is working with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to make sure those who bring animals to perform are in compliance before they are allowed onto the grounds.

“The state doesn’t tell me or show me if the animal owner is in compliance or not,” Freese said.

He said there is no “paper trail” at Circus World where he knows who is in compliance and what animal trainers or owners are not.

“How can I fix anything if they (the state and federal agencies) don’t tell me what is happening?” Freese said.

He said he is working with the USDA and DATCP to learn when they are visiting CWM to check the paperwork of the animal owners.

“Absolutely, we are making certain changes,” he said. “We want this to be a fun and safe environment for people to visit and to work.”

Circus World animals to get more scrutiny.