Friday, January 18, 2013

Vindication, at last…

Many Followers will recall this post in which I wrote about Alli’s first trip to the circus. Not just any circus, but OUR circus – The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. While “The Greatest Show on Earth” hasn’t been in the family for a long time, my great-great-great uncles started what became and still is the largest and most well-known circus in the world. Even though we don’t own it anymore, it still holds a very special place in our hearts.

In that post, I included a short blurb about the protesters who stood for hours in the pouring down rain that day speaking out against the poor treatment of animals (namely elephants) by Feld Entertainment, Inc. – the company that owns and operates the circus. Judging by the attendance numbers that weekend, I’d say their little “protest” was less than effective. It seems like people will protest just about anything these days. And when was the last time a protest ever accomplished anything? This isn't the 60's anymore people...

It left a sour taste in my mouth that afternoon. But a smile ran across my face when Grandma C sent me the following news article this week:

As it turns out, the ASPCA had filed a federal lawsuit in 2000 (it was dismissed, then reinstated in 2003) against Feld Entertainment, Inc. stating that a former Ringling Bros. employee had been physically and emotionally injured by the Ringling Bros.’ treatment of their elephants. After 6 weeks of testimony, the court ruled in Feld Entertainment, Inc.’s favor after finding “that the plaintiff’s litigation was based on the untruthful testimony of a paid plaintiff and witness who the Court found received at least $190,000 in payments as his sole source of income over an eight year period by animal special interest groups, including ASPCA…” There's a lot more to it than that, but you get the idea where this was going...

The ASPCA must pay $9.3 Million to Feld Entertainment, Inc. as settlement. "These defendants attempted to destroy our family-owned business with a hired plaintiff who made statements that the court did not believe.  Animal activists have been attacking our family, our company, and our employees for decades because they oppose animals in circuses.  This settlement is a vindication not just for the company but also for the dedicated men and women who spend their lives working and caring for all the animals with Ringling Bros. in the face of such targeted, malicious rhetoric," said Kenneth Feld, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Feld Entertainment.

Now, I’m not one to condone taking money from an animal rights group… everyone knows I’m an animal lover at heart. But when you try to drag my family’s name through the mud through malicious, unfounded propaganda and slander – the gloves come off. These people will never understand the blood, sweat and tears my family put into the circus over multiple generations. They poured their souls into something they felt so strongly about – and that was bringing happiness and joy to millions of people the world over.

I think the last section of the article sums it up perfectly –
"Feld Entertainment has produced Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey for over 45 years. Ringling Bros.' elephants, the treasured symbol of The Greatest Show On Earth® and the subject of the litigation, continue to be healthy and well-cared for by a team of full-time veterinarians and an animal care staff that works to ensure that the animals have a safe and positive environment. The company meets and exceeds federal requirements on the care of its Asian elephants, tigers and other animals.  Its animal care practices are commonly accepted and well known to federal, state and local government regulators who routinely inspect Ringling Bros. in almost every city it visits.
Feld Entertainment, Inc. is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live family entertainment that lifts the human spirit and creates indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment's productions have appeared in more than 70 countries and on six continents to date..."

Vindication, indeed.

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