Ringling Bros.: Tiger beating a fabrication
By Christian Boone and Larry Hartstein
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
12:32 p.m. Wednesday, March 3, 2010
PETA’s allegation that a tiger was brutally beaten during Ringling Bros.’ stop in Atlanta is a total fabrication, a circus spokeswoman said Wednesday.
“I really believe this is just an activist tactic,” said Crystal Drake, regional public relations manager for Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus. “Don’t make up things about abuse that is not happening.”
“We are diligent about our animal care,” she added. “There’s been no abuse with our tigers or any of our animals.”
PETA says the incident happened Feb. 18 at Philips Arena and that it is looking for additional witnesses to corroborate it.
The animal rights organization claims an unidentified whistleblower watched as “trainers repeatedly and violently whipped the tiger until the animal collapsed on the floor and lost control of his bowels.”
PETA is offering a $5,000 reward to additional witnesses in hopes of forcing an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spokeswoman RaeLeann Smith said. The whistleblower told PETA that some arena employees likely observed the alleged beating.
“Ringling and other circuses that use animals routinely use bullhooks, electric shock prods and whips to force tigers and elephants to perform frightening and even dangerous tricks, which is why we implore the public never to patronize these cruel businesses,” PETA director Debbie Leahy said.
PETA is asking anyone with information to call 877-832-3262 or e-mail email@example.com.
The circus performed Feb. 12-21 at Philips.
On Feb. 18, a zebra named Lima broke loose from a training and exercise area and ran through downtown rush-hour traffic. He was caught on the interstate near the Grady Curve.
Following that episode, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent inspectors to the circus.
“They looked at everything,” Drake said. “They looked at all of our animals. And we welcomed them.”
Drake said she learned about PETA’s allegation from media coverage.
“This is the first we’ve heard of it,” she said.
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