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The Best Show On Earth At What Cost?: Ringling Bros. Cited After Elephant Collapses

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images
Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

An elephant collapsed shortly after performing at a Ringling Bros. Circus last Sunday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The 54 year-old Asian elephant, named “Sarah,” was boarding a rail car when she fell, and the cause of her collapse is being debated by animal rights activists and the animal caretakers at Ringling Bros.

There was video taken of the fallen elephant, as well as eye witness accounts of the incident from Animal Defenders International (ADI). Ringling Bros. told CBS that Sarah was being “escorted by her handlers up the loading ramp into the elephant train car when she shifted her position, backing down the ramp, causing her to lose her balance, where she kneeled and rolled down the ramp onto the ground.”

Matt Rossell, Campaigns Director for ADI, thinks otherwise, citing a long-term infection that Sarah has had, one that Ringling Bros. has ignored. “Sarah is sick and the stress and fatigue has likely led to this dangerous fall,” he said in a released statement. “This elephant needs to be taken off the road immediately so she can be properly evaluated and treated by a veterinarian.”

Earlier this year, the USDA cited Ringling Bros. for failing to adequately treat Sarah for a pus-like discharge present during urination, a violation of the Animal Welfare Act. Official USDA documentation alleges that despite diagnosis by a senior veterinarian for Sarah’s infection, animal handlers ignored the recommended treatment and insisted that her problems stemmed from a chronic (yet undocumented) fistula that was under control.

I’ve personally always felt sorry for the animals in this show and this looks like further evidence that Ringling Bros. is literally working their animals to death. I hope a thorough investigation takes place and something is done to enhance the well-being of these animals.

If you want, you can watch this video shot of Sarah after her collapse Sunday night.

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