Ringling Bros. Fined Record Amount for Cruelty to Animals
Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus has just been fined more than a quarter-million dollars for the way some of their animals get treated in putting on the Greatest Show on Earth. At $10,000 incurred for each violation of the Animal Welfare Act, that’s a brand-new record, although I don’t suspect you’ll see it stamped on the posters with which they lure lovers of animals–or, at least, lovers of animals insofar as the animals can entertain.
A couple of prominent animal-rights groups tried to bring this suit back in October, but they couldn’t make it stick. They keep strong counsel over there at Ringling Bros., you see, which means another try was what it took to effectively levy the penalty. Now the USDA is able to hold them accountable for the way they like to chain elephants’ legs to keep them domesticated between performances, or drag them around by their snouts with a metal hook.
Siegried and Roy made the issue public eight years ago when one half of the duo was attacked by his own tiger, and, a few years following that, Michael Vick made the general matter high-profile as well, when he was convicted for dog-fighting. But the folks at Ringling Bros. must not have paid too much cognizance to those incidents, since the one came as a result of animals who knew how to fight back, and the other was an incident of such absurd illegality they couldn’t even relate to it.
Which is why it’s important that the U.S. is still out there, doing its Big Government thing in some of the right places: observing victimed crimes that might otherwise go unobserved, unreported, and unconvicted–and then applying a price tag to those crimes that reads $270,000 but really counts for much more, in bad publicity and potential loss of revenue. “We look forward to working with the USDA,” their CEO was saying yesterday, “in a cooperative and transparent manner that meets our shared goal of ensuring that our animals are healthy and receive the highest quality care.”
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