RINGLING BROTHERS TAKES THE ELEPHANTS OFF THE ROAD

After 150 years as the iconic symbol of the Ringling Brothers Circus, the Asian elephants are finally coming off the road.  Our firm is proud of the work we did for more than a decade bringing to light the cruelty that went on behind the Big Top -- work that was instrumental in bringing about this momentous occasion.  Among other efforts, in 2001 we brought a lawsuit on behalf of animal protection organizations and Tom Rider, a former Ringling employee who had worked with the elephants, under the Endangered Species Act to stop the "take" of this endangered species – – striking them with bull hooks, keeping them on chains for many hours at a time, and preventing them from engaging in any of their natural behaviors in the wild.  While the lawsuit was never resolved on the merits because the Court concluded that none of the plaintiffs had legal standing, the six week trial uncovered mountains of evidence,  including Ringling's own testimony and documents -- such as thousands of medical records for the animals -- that confirmed the systemic bull hook and chaining practices that were the basis of the suit.  This evidence was instrumental in enlightening the public about the steep price the elephants paid for a few minutes' entertainment, and also contributed to dozens of legislative and other grassroots efforts around the country calling for the end of Ringling's use of these extraordinary beings in its circus.  While it is gratifying to see the elephants finally being taken off the grueling road show, we hope they will be sent to one of two U.S. Sanctuaries where they can live out the remainder of their lives in peace and without the fear of ever enduring chains and bull hooks again.