Protection of Asian Elephants
The Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs brought claims against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and its parent company for the mistreatment of Asian elephants, alleging that a number of the circus’s routine practices violate the Endangered Species Act, including the forceful use of bull hooks to train, control, and "discipline" elephants as well as the continuous chaining of elephants for most of the day and night.
On December 30, 2009, the Honorable Emmet Sullivan dismissed the case on grounds that plaintiffs lacked sufficient standing to pursue their claims. Since the Court found a lack of jurisdiction, it did not rule on the merits of the case, including the extensive evidence regarding the mistreatment of elephants, which was presented during the six-week trial. The Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which issued a decision affirming the district court’s ruling on October 28, 2011. On January 11, 2012, the Court of Appeals denied the plaintiff’s petition for rehearing.