Nov 05

The Cruelest Show on Earth

The Cruelest Show on Earth in Mother Jones documents decades of deaths, illness and injury in the famed herd of performing elephants at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.


Mar. 5, 2015: Feld Entertainment announced that it will phase out elephants in the Ringling Bros. traveling circus by 2018 “to meet shifting consumer preferences.” I talked about it with Warren Olney on NPR.

Nov. 28, 2011: Feld Entertainment agreed to pay a $270,000 penalty — the largest ever under the Animal Welfare Act — to settle numerous alleged violations for mistreatment of elephants and other circus animals.After USDA announced the settlement, Feld released a statement, noting it was not admitting anything but would “enhance” its animal care. The historic penalty ended decades of USDA inaction on abuse allegations against Ringling in inspections, investigations and through long-standing efforts by animal welfare groups — such as PETA, ASPCA and the Animal Protection Institute.

Image by David Cook Wildlife Photography


  1. Supv. Dave de Felice

    I am a member of the Dane County Board of Supervisors in Madison, WI. We are considering a proposed county ban on elephants used in performances such as the Shriner Circus. In response, we on the board are getting an unusual number of emails from people around the country and some in Wisconsin opposing the ban. I am wondering if the Feld group or some other organization might be generating these emails. Among the most unusual emails to date is from Linda Reifschneider, President of Asian Elephant Support, http://www.asianelephantsupport.org. She opposes the ban. I am wondering if you know anything about her or her organization. I find it incredible that a person who opposes a ban on elephants performing in a circus setting also heads an organization seemingly devoted to protecting elephants. I’d appreciate any advice or insight you could offer.

    1. admin

      Hi, Dave. I’ll give you a shout about this in the next couple days.

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