Court Ruling Offers No Relief For Circus Elephants

Nearly one year after the groundbreaking lawsuit for elephant mistreatment brought against Ringling Bros.’ parent company Feld Entertainment, Inc. (FEI) went to trial, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that it lacks jurisdiction to address the claims of mistreatment brought by AWI and its co-plaintiffs due to a lack of sufficient standing. An overwhelming amount of evidence establishing the severe physical, emotional and behavioral harm inflicted upon endangered Asian elephants by the circus was revealed over the course of the six-week trial held early last year. Testimony of elephant mistreatment was not only elicited from plaintiffs’ witnesses, but from circus witnesses as well. Kenneth Feld, Chief Executive Officer of FEI, admitted under oath that "all" of the elephant handlers "strike" the elephants with bull hooks, and Gary Jacobson, general manager of the circus’ breeding farm in Florida, testified that most of the female elephants are kept chained by two legs least 16 hours a day, and some are chained 23.5 hours a day at FEI’s "Center for Elephant Conservation." Had the Court addressed the merits of the case and found against FEI, the circus could have been prohibited from continuing to engage in its current bull hook and chaining practices. AWI and its co-plaintiffs plan to appeal the federal court ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.