Panel Discussion About Ringling Circus on "Talking Animals"

Talking Animals Jan 02 2013 9:00AM - 10:00AM Add to Calendar

Every year since we launched "Talking Animals" in Southern California in 2003, we've devoted at least one show annually to spotlighting the plight of the Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey circus animals, pegged to Ringling's local engagement.

Kind of a sad tradition, but a tradition nonetheless, and one we're extending here.

For the Jan. 2 edition of "Talking Animals,” I will convene a panel discussion about Ringling Bros, featuring two Florida activists who have protested the circus and plan to protest it during the Tampa engagement, which not coincidentally opens that very day, Jan. 2.

They are Suzanne House, board member of Florida Voices For Animals (FVA) and Bryan Wilson, Central Florida coordinator of Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF).

The panel will also feature Scott Blais, co-founder of The Elephant Sanctuary, in Hohenwald TN, who’s been managing and caring for Asian elephants (the type Ringling uses) for more than two decades, and whose pre-Sanctuary career included circus experience;

and Ringling spokesman Stephen Payne, who appears to be the chief spokesperson nationally for all Ringling circus matters. Payne is flying into Tampa Wednesday morning, arriving shortly after 11am, so the plan is for him to join the discussion shortly after he gets off the plane.

This panel discussion on Ringling will happen live on "Talking Animals" Jan. 2 at 11am ET, and—time and circumstances permitting—we hope to invite listeners to participate in the conversation by calling (813-239-9663) or e-mailing (



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Ringling crony Steven Payne and his "spin" is a futile attempt to cover up the abuse and suffering animals are subjected to their “cruelest show on earth.” The overwhelming evidence and documentation of the abuse animals endure in Ringling Bros. service, as well as the $270,000 settlement fine paid by Ringling Bros. for violations of the Animal Welfare Act - the largest ever assessed to an animal exhibitor by the USDA - is irrefutable. Ringling Bros. dismissed this “settlement” as “the cost of doing business.” Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment, testified under oath that his trainers routinely hit elephants with bullhooks, whip them, and use electric prods on them. He even admitted to witnessing this. Obviously Ringling Brothers is NOT going to show you what life is truly like for these enslaved animals. Animals in circuses and traveling shows are subject to inhumane confinement: lions and tigers are housed in cramped cages, majestic elephants are shackled and chained in trucks and train box cars; training methods utilize violence, fear, and intimidation to make animals perform ridiculous unnatural stunts. For the few minutes you see animals“performing” they suffer a lifetime of misery. Not only is the physical abuse appalling, but the deprivation of any natural behaviors, choices and instincts is cruel. Ringling Bros. “Center for Elephant Conservation” is nothing more than a breeding and torture training facility. If you've ever wondered how they get an 8,000 pound elephant to perform the ridiculous stunts you see, this is where it starts, with baby elephants ripped away from there mothers to endure cruel, violent, painful training sessions using ropes, bullhooks, and electric shock prods. There is no educational value to children who watch unnatural tricks performed by wild animals. It does not teach children the true nature of these animals or to respect and appreciate them, only that it is acceptable to mistreat and exploit animals for entertainment purposes. Countries around the world, as well as municipalities in the United States, have partial or full bans on circus with animals. The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act, H.R. 3359, is a bill extremely vital to the lives of these animals, to ending this cruelty and ensuring the safety of the public. This federal bill would amend the Animal Welfare Act to restrict the use of exotic and non-domesticated animals in circuses and traveling shows. The more knowledgeable the public becomes about the suffering of circus animals and the serious safety issues involved with using dangerous animals in performances, the less inclined they will be to support, promote, employ and attend circuses that abuse and exploit animals. If we all make a more informed and compassionate choice we can end this abuse and cruelty.

Please do what you can when speaking of these wonderful, intelligent giant beings and their babies, who live in a world where distress, murder and heinus acts are so deplorable that my heart breaks just thinking about them. The plan is "no more elephants in any circus in the world, none, not even a snake. I look forward to your response at this meeting and wish every word you speak be blessed with truth and light. Sincerely, Judy Salerno