(CNN) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has slapped the parent
company of the "Greatest Show on Earth" with a record penalty for
animal rights violations.
Feld Entertainment Inc., which produces the Ringling Bros. and Barnum
& Bailey Circus, has agreed to pay $270,000 for allegedly violating
Animal Welfare Act on several occasions from June 2007 to August
according to a USDA news release.
The USDA can levy fines of up to $10,000 per violation of the act.
"This settlement sends a direct message to the public and to those who
exhibit animals that USDA will take all necessary steps to protect
animals regulated under the Animal Welfare Act," Agriculture Secretary
Tom Vilsack said in the release.