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.