The Animal Legal Defense Fund Responds to Ringling Bros. Announcement to Close

Posted on January 15, 2017

Contact: Natalia Lima,, 201 679 7088

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is celebrating the announcement that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will shut down forever this May. This decision marks the end of a shameful tradition of abuse and exploitation. As the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, the organization is gratified to see that constant legal pressure has strangled one of the titans of exploiting animals for entertainment.

In 2015 Ringling announced that elephants would be phased out of the show by 2018—which they later accelerated to 2016. This decision was the inevitable outcome of the growing prevalence of bullhook bans. With increased awareness about bullhooks—the firepoker-like device used to jab elephants in the most sensitive parts of their bodies—comes an increased public understanding that circuses are not in fact celebrations of fantastic animals, but rather an unjustifiable cruelty.

“It’s vindicating to see such a major reflection of public sentiment turning away from abusing animals for entertainment,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “But we will not stop working to pass legislation protecting all animals who are exploited in circuses and traveling acts until animal acts are a relic of the past.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has pending litigation to free Candy the chimpanzee—who is held at an amusement park in Louisiana—and Lolita the orca—who is held at the Seaquarium in Miami, Florida—from captivity. The organization also recently notified Landry’s of their intent to sue to free four white tigers, Nero, Marina, Coral and Reef. The tigers—who have never had adequate access to sunlight, fresh air or natural surfaces—have been housed indoors at the Downtown Aquarium and restaurant in Texas for 12 years.


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