$270,000 Fine Paid by Circus

The owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Feld Entertainment, paid a $270,000 fine for allegedly violating the Animal Welfare Act. It was the largest fine ever levied against an American animal exhibitor.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an email, “This settlement sends a direct message to the public and to those who exhibit animals that USDA will take all necessary steps to protect animals regulated under the Animal Welfare Act.” (Source: Business Week)

In their official press release Feld wrote their paying of the very large USDA fine does not mean they violated any regulations. They explained, “The company decided it was more important to focus on the future of its business by continuing to provide the best animal care possible instead of engaging in costly and protracted litigation.” (Source: Feld Entertainment)

At issue was the mishandling of animals such as the forcing of an elephant to perform when it showed signs of being ill, cuts on another elephants face from an enclosure, splintered floors in cages, and one or more animal escapes. All of these situations did, or could cause harm to animals.

PETA played some role in bringing attention to the animal mishandling issue, when they presented what they say is photographic and video evidence of elephant abuse.

Critics of circuses say even the use of animals for performing tricks is cruel and should be abolished as it serves no purpose other than to make money. In the wild, elephants can roam for thirty miles in a single day. Wild mammals need very large open spaces to move within, in order to be healthy and have full lives.

One day circuses with performing animals might be a thing of the past. ASPCA has a list of circuses currently that do not use animals.


Image Credit: Bernard Gagnon


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Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Geez, I even mis-read this.............Nov. of 2011................more than a year ago. Okay, folks, FACT..............there was a court case that was recently settled where an animal welfare group was ordered to PAY Ringling Bros a huge sum of money, and along with the group, the man who they hired to lie on the witness stand, who claimed to have worked FOR Ringling Bros and abused elephants. The man never worked for the circus and he flat out lied..........it was proven in court and the charges were ultimately dismissed against the circus with a huge fine against the plaintiffs. It's ALL in Care.2!~ Read it.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Oh, I see the date on this was 2 months ago? Actually, if Jake wanted to get his facts straight, he could find the actual article in Care.2 itself about the settlement. It was TO Ringling Bros, not BY Ringling Bros.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Sorry, but the info here is completely false and actually BACKWARDS. Ringling Bros. was PAID $270,000 by the animal welfare group that had falsely testified against them and by the man that they hired to lie on the witness stand.

I hope a retraction to this story is posted. Jake, you should be ashamed of yourself!

Tanya W.
Tanya W5 years ago

I say no to circuses!!! Let the people do all the tricks and treats they want, but leave the animals to be free and natural!!! No to cages too!!!

Aileen C.
AILEEN C5 years ago


Suheyla C.
Süheyla C5 years ago


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

No animals in circuses!

Ana Passos
Ana Passos5 years ago

Good to know

Lynn C.
Lynn C5 years ago

And they call these 'places of entertainment'?

Sara Y.
Sara Young5 years ago

It is past time to end the caged, wild animals for the benefit of profit for any and All Circuses!! We have programs on TV now, so our children can actually see wild elephants in their natural habitat. That should be enough!! I NEVER will attend a circus!! If you feel it is imperative that your child see any wild animal.....take them to the Columbus Zoo. I, for one, am done with both zoos and circuses!!