Investigate Elephant Abuse at Popular Circus


Target: Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Goal: Inspect severely wounded elephant at Ringling Brothers’ Circus and assess any violations of animal protection laws

Besides its high-flying trapeze acts, Ringling Brothers Circus is also well known for its long history of animal cruelty. With a track record of abuse spanning nearly two decades, the inhumane circus has continued to flourish from its overt exploitation of elephants and tigers. Recent video footage of severely scarred elephants suggests the handlers are still employing brutal “training” methods, despite numerous citations from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The August 2014 video recording taken by concerned onlookers shows the elephants as they enter into an arena in Anaheim, California. One of the elephants can be seen with three distinct laceration marks on her side. PETA speculates this injury was caused either by a bullhook—a poking tool used to punish elephants during training—or unsafe transport vehicles. PETA further adds, “Ringling appears to have tried to cover up the wounds with a gray powder called ‘Wonder Dust,’ which the circus uses to conceal wounds inflicted with bullhooks.”

Beating elephants and denying them proper veterinary care is a breach of the Animal Welfare Act and is subject to criminal charges or fines. It is also a transgression that Ringling Brothers has been cited for in the past. Sign the petition below to urge the USDA to thoroughly investigate the treatment of these elephants. The more abuse that is exposed, the closer Ringling Brothers Circus comes to being shut down permanently.


Dear Mr. Vilsack,

As Secretary of Agriculture for the USDA, you have the unique ability to stop animal abuse from spreading. Ringling Brothers Circus has been cited many times by your organization for health and safety violations, including incidents where elephants were severely beaten with bullhooks and denied medical attention. Sadly, it seems a similar incident has taken place that requires further investigation by the USDA.

Video footage taken by a passerby shows an elephant with three distinct lacerations on its side. The wound seems to have been caused by a bullhook, and PETA pointed out that circus trainers tried to hide the wound with “Wonder Dust,” a common application for such injuries. Another possibility is that Ringling Brothers did not safely transport the elephants, resulting in the painful abrasions. Both instances are clear violations of the Animal Welfare Act and warrant punishment. This is not the first time the circus has performed these horrendous acts; hopefully a proper examination will make it the last time.

I urge you to consider the evidence presented thus far and investigate the Ringling Brothers Circus for animal cruelty. Please help end the cycle of abuse and save these creatures from blatant torture.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Sam Hood via State library of New South Wales via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Ringling Bros has been charged with animal abuse time and time again as many years back as I can remember. Why the f- are we still needing petitions for this ?? I’ll tell you why. As long as the Corrupt Greedy Government offices can get a buck out of the Circus coming to town their concerns are not for the well being of the circus animals, never have been and never will be. Instead of turning their backs at what is going on try to MAN UP !!! and STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT! This is the reason for many of these kinds of problems, saying yes to the wrong crowd !

    SAY IT OUT LOUD PEOPLE ~ AND STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT ~ The Govt isn’t going to !!

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