PETA vs. Ringling Bros.

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star published a story in March on the ongoing debate between Ringling Bros. and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

In the profile, Ringling Bros. accuses People for the Ethical Treatment of animals of putting forth a fictional representation of the circus, while PETA accuses Ringling Bros. of being one of the cruelest circuses and of being “Baby Killers” after a young elephant at the circus died in July 2004.

PETA’s Brandi Valladolid told the Daily Free Lance-Star,

We’ve been protesting Ringling Bros. for a very long time. Ringling Bros. is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to animal welfare and animal care.

. . .

[Parents should not bring their children to a Ringling Bros. circus because] Kids pick up on things we don’t think they see. They see the animals getting whipped. They see the ringmaster hitting them. It teaches a very dangerous lesson — that it’s OK to abuse animals; OK to exploit them for entertainment.

Meanwhile Ringling Bros. spokesman Darin Johnson told the newspaper that PETA’s web site attacking the circus is filled with misinformation. For example, Johnson says video footage there distorts the events surrounding the birth of an elephant at the circus. According to the Daly Free Lance-Star,

He [Johnson] said the online video of the birth only shows the calf being pulled away from the mother for its own protection and doesn’t show it being returned to her when she calmed down.

Johnson said the calf was taken away, checked and returned, just as human babies are examined by doctors then returned to their mothers.

Johnson also told the Daily Free Lance-Star that online video at PETA’s site purports to showing elephants being whipped by Ringling Bros. employees, but that the video is in fact not of Ringling Bros. elephants or employees. The Daily Free Lance-Star quoted Johnson as saying,

They took footage from every zoo and animal park in the world and spliced it together.


PETA decries circus’s ethics. Michael Zitz, March 25, 2005.

Massachusetts Judge Dismisses Indecency Charge, But Fines PETA Activist for Disturbing the Peace

The Harvard Crimson reported in September that a district judge dismissed indecency charges against six activists with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, but upheld a charge of disturbing the peace against PETA’s Dan Mathews.

The case stems from a March 1 protest in which the six activists stripped to their underwear in Harvard Square to protest fur. At the protest, Mathews shouted,

We’re here because we care. We’re bare in Harvard square. Wearing fur’s not fair. WeÂ’re in our underwear.

In addition to Matthews, those arrested were Aryenish Tiraz Birdie, Amy Thomson, Brandi Valladolid, Kristin Waller and Karla Waples.

Except for Mathews, the disturbing the peace charges were “continued without a finding” meaning that as long as the activists aren’t arrested in Massachusetts again over the next six months, the charge will be dismissed. Mathews chose to plead guilty to the charge, according to his attorney, because he doesn’t want the restraint of being arrest free for the next six months. In addition, Mathews said that he has had to travel to Cambridge repeatedly for time consuming court hearings and it was easier to just pay the $300 fine.

The Crimson reported that Matthews said he has been arrested more than 20 times since he joined PETA.


Court dismisses PETA charges. Joseph Tartakoff, Harvard Crimson, September 17, 2004.

PETA Protest Ends in 6 Arrests. Faryl Ury, Harvard Crimson, March 2, 2004.

PETA's Semi-Nude Circus Protests

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals apparently has yet another semi-nude woman stunt to protest circuses. KAIT in Arkansas reports that,

Wendy Girard, of California, lay on the ground scantily clad with shackles and painted on bruises in PETA’s protests of the upcoming Ringling Brothers Circus in Jonesboro.

PETA’s Brandy Valladolid said of the group’s tactics,

People may certainly disagree with our tactics but I think they can still walk away with information that allows them to walk away with compassionate choices that helps the lives of animals.

I suspect, though, that most circus goers probably walk away thinking what an unidentified Jonesboro resident is quoted as saying in the KAIT story, “I think it’s kinda stupid myself.”


Demonstrators protest upcoming circus. KAIT, August 24, 2004.

PETA Continues Lies about Medical Research

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has taken out billboards denouncing the March of Dimes for supporting medical research with animals. The Shreveport Times described the billboards thusly,

This, the second billboard PETA has put up in the Shreveport area in the last six months, depicts a pregnant monkey with wires cemented into her back. The caption reads, “march of Dimes Helping or Hurting.” Similar billboards will go up, or have gone up, in several other cities nationwide.

PETA spokeswoman Brandi Valladolid told the Shreveport Times that they placed billboards in the cities that the March of Dimes claims have the highest rates of birth defects. But, surprise, the March of Dimes tells the Shreveport Times that it does not produce a list of birth defect incidence by city.

Imagine that — a PETA activists with inaccurate information.

But Valladolid doesn’t stop there. She repeats the nonsensical claim made repeatedly by PCRM and PETA that the diet drugs fen-phen show the dangers of animal testing,

. . . because animal testing cleared them as safe for human consumption when in fact they are not.

How do you know a PETA activist is lying? He or she is still talking.

First, fen-phen was an off-label prescription that was never tested in animals. Of course for PETA and PCRM to understand this, they’d have to leave their fantasy worlds to actually develop an understanding of how drugs are tested and prescribed.

Second, animal testing conducted prior to approval of both fenfluramine and phentermine revealed side effects that could cause the sorts of problems that the combinatory treatment was eventually linked to. Fenfluramine, for example, was only approved for use by patients for at most a few weeks, but doctors prescribed it to patients for months and years. Similarly, the FDA noted in approving phentermine that there was no safety data at all for its usage beyond 1 year.

But when the drugs were pulled off the market, the average length of time patients had been on the off-label combination was 9 months. The animal and human testing of both drugs worked fine — physicians simply chose to ignore that data and the warnings and cautions from the FDA based on that data.

But PETA has never let the facts get in the way of a good lie, so why start now?


PETA takes on animal testing in new billboard campaign. Sarah Pancoast, The Shreveport Times, April 4, 2003.

PETA's New, Friendlier Image? Dancing On Graves!

After the 9/11 terrorist attack, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals told reporters that it was altering its tactics because the “in-your-face” style of protests wouldn’t be as effective. And, amazingly, not a small number of newspapers bought that nonsense and ran stories about PETA’s new profile. And this weekend, PETA’s less offensive approach including sending a woman to literally dance on the grave of one of PETA’s enemies, the late circus trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams.

Gebel-Williams died a year ago and to mark the one year anniversary of his death, PETA sent Rachelle Thorne, 20, to his grave site dressed in a devil costume. Thorne planned to dance on the circus pioneer’s grave. (Thorne also gave her name as Jessica L. Smith to police).

Thorne was accompanied by PETA spokeswoman Brandi Valladolid who told reporters that Gebel-Williams was “a bully who made a fast buck on the bloodied backs of animals.”

Gebel-Williams’ families got wind of the planned protest and alerted police. They took Thorne into custody while Valladolid split before the arrest took place.

Thorne remained in jail overnight and Valladolid told The Florida Herald Tribune that it was the policy of PETA not to bail out its protesters when arrested. That, of course, is a lie, since PETA has on several occasions bailed out arrested protesters, including an incident a few years ago when it bailed out individuals accused of arson at a PETA protests.

Ringling Bros. issued a press release saying,

It’s shameful that our critics feel that they should desecrate the resting place of a man beloved by millions who ushered in the era of respect for all animals. According to a press release issued yesterday, PETA sent a protester dressed as a devil to dance on the rave of animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams, who passed away one year ago today.

While police managed to stop Thorne/Smith from dancing on Gebel-Williams grave, such outrageous protests do help to drive yet another nail in the coffin of the animal rights movement. For a brief second, PETA seemed to recognize this after the 9/11 attack but has apparently concluded that even horrible publicity like this is better than no publicity at all. Lets hope they keep up that policy.


Protest at Gebel-Williams grave foiled. Sun and Weekly Herald (Florida), July 21, 2002.

Devil picks a hot day for grave dancing. Bill Hutchinson, Herald Tribune (Florida), July 20, 2002.

Ringling Bros. Responds to Extremists’ Latest Antics. Ringling Bros., Press Release, July 19, 2002.