By Stephen Payne
Once again, the radical animal-rights group NYCLASS is taking it upon itself to decide what type of entertainment New York City families can enjoy.
Not satisfied with attacking the hardworking men and women who run the venerable and iconic horse-drawn carriages in Central Park or the institution that is the Westminster Kennel Club, the organization has set its sights on Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey in its latest attempt to impose its philosophy on responsible animal owners.
It’s a crazy crusade that grossly distorts what the circus is all about. People who truly care about animal welfare should not seek to ban the circus as it is run today. Rather, they should stand up and applaud it.
Opponents paint Ringling Bros. as some sort of lawless entity that’s cruel to elephants, lions and other creatures. To the contrary, we revere these animals and treat them accordingly. The circus operates under a long list of laws and regulations. We are licensed by and subject to unannounced inspections from local, state and federal animal welfare officials, including those in New York City.
There are few industries as closely watched over by the authorities, and that’s just fine with us.
We are very proud of our record of animal care. Our professionals spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week dedicated to guaranteeing all our elephants, tigers and other animals are safe, comfortable and well cared-for. In addition, we have a staff of full-time veterinarians and keep a local veterinarian on call 24 hours a day in each city where the show performs.
Meantime, Ringling Bros. is the global leader in conservation and research to save the endangered Asian elephant, the treasured symbol of our circus for 144 years. We work with and share our knowledge with zoos and other institutions in the U.S. and around the world.
Through the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, we have had 26 births of these magnificent animals, with more on the way. A portion of every ticket to a circus performance goes to these conservation programs, so our fans are not only seeing an amazing show with their families but helping to save an endangered species.
The reality is that no single organization is doing more than Ringling Bros. to ensure that the Asian elephant does not disappear from this world.
Which raises the question: Do NYCLASS and its allies also want to free all elephants from zoos, which also treat elephants well and also further the cause of conservation? If they were somehow to prevail in their war on the circus, that wouldn’t be far behind.
Beyond providing excellent care for all our animals, Ringling Bros. and its parent company, Feld Entertainment, are also part of the greater New York City community. Here, and in all the cities we visit, we take great pride in offering free and discounted tickets to our shows so that families who might not otherwise be able to afford to come can experience the circus together.
For many of these families, the only place they will ever get to see an elephant and appreciate the special bond between humans and animals is at a Ringling Bros. performance.
New York City families that care about having a choice to take their children to a time-honored tradition of safe, affordable family entertainment should be alarmed by NYCLASS and their tactics. Come and see for themselves how all the animals are thriving at The Greatest Show On Earth.
Payne is vice-president for corporate communications for Feld Entertainment.