PETA sues USDA over circus cases
PETA says the USDA has withheld information regarding investigations into Animal Welfare Act violations by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 05:51 PM
ANIMAL ABUSE: PETA accused Ringling of abuses of animals including the beating of an elephant and the premature death of a lion from heat exhaustion while in a train car. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a complaint on Tuesday against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for information about alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
A spokesman for Feld Entertainment, Ringling Bros' parent company, said that although he could not comment on the lawsuit itself because he had not seen it, the legal action was probably a publicity move.
PETA says the USDA has withheld information regarding three separate investigations into violations of the Animal Welfare Act by the popular circus company.
"By ignoring its own investigators' recommendations for prosecution, the USDA has ignored Ringling's violations of federal law," PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.
"Ringling must be held accountable and so must the U.S. government, which has a legal mandate to protect animals."
PETA accused Ringling of abuses of animals including the beating of an elephant and the premature death of a lion from heat exhaustion while in a train car.
The cases were investigated and closed because of the statute of limitations, according to the PETA statement. PETA says the statute was wrongfully applied and wants the cases reopened.
"PETA's characterizations of these three USDA incidents are completely outrageous and untrue," Feld vice president of communications Stephen Payne told Reuters.
"This sounds like another baseless publicity stunt by PETA," he said. "PETA has had a long-running campaign against Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey ... As people can see when they come to Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey, the animals are thriving under our care."
(Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Jerry Norton)
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