As an eyewitness to the barbaric practices that take place behind the scenes at Ringling, I'd like to tell you exactly what happens so that you can help me spread the word to people who still think that circuses that use animals are good family "entertainment."
I joined Ringling last April because I wanted the opportunity to work with animals every day. I was totally unprepared for what I saw.
The public has no idea that Ringling's handlers are taught to keep the animals afraid. I saw the elephants, horses, and camels get hit, punched, beaten, and whipped by circus staff members. Everyone from the head of animal care to totally inexperienced handlers abused animals. The abuse did not take place once in a while; it happened every day.
Witnessing this abuse left me a nervous wreck. I routinely complained to my supervisors about what I knew was outright cruelty to animals, but I was told repeatedly that I was overreacting. Just a few months after I'd joined, I quit Ringling because I couldn't stand the cruelty inherent in the circus any longer.
I was an animal lover before I joined Ringling. Now, I am also an animal activist. I have joined PETA's efforts to stop the horrific violence inflicted on animals by Ringling.
I am a mother of five children, and having seen what goes on behind the scenes at Ringling, I will never again take them to a circus that exploits animals.
Among all the horrors I saw behind the scenes at Ringling, one event stands out. That was the day I saw Ringling's head trainer viciously assault a sweet elephant who was chained by her front and back legs, unable to escape from the blows.
For at least half an hour, the trainer beat her with a bullhook-a heavy, steel-tipped club that Ringling's handlers use frequently. At one point, I saw the trainer swing the bullhook into the elephant's ear canal with all his force as she screamed in pain.
That particular trainer was known to have a violent temper. On June 11, 2006, I saw him lead two elephants, whom I believe were called Luna and Tonka, within inches of a man who was videotaping them. Luna and Tonka are Ringling's most aggressive elephants, and I was shocked that the trainer would so recklessly endanger this man's life.
I then saw the trainer attack the man with his bullhook. It was only later that I learned that the person the trainer had threatened worked for PETA.
The PETA staff members who tracked our tour stood in stark contrast to the bullies working for Ringling. I observed the tireless PETA staff members from afar and was impressed by their composure, dedication, and compassion. That's why I knew I had to tell PETA everything I'd seen when I decided to leave Ringling.
Now that I've come forward, I know that PETA-and members like you-will make sure that Ringling faces consequences for its heartless cruelty. Let's make sure the elephants' story is told.
I can only imagine the kind of resources it takes to put investigators on the road in order to follow a company like Ringling for an entire year. But if it weren't for PETA's willingness to do so, no one would ever know what's being done to Ringling's animals. Thank you for supporting their work.