Animal-rights group plans circus protest - Quad-Cities Online: Local

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Animal-rights group plans circus protest

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Posted: Friday, September 4, 1998 1:00 am

MOLINE -- An animal-rights group plans to meet Saturday at The Mark of the Quad-Cities in protest of alleged mistreatment of animals by Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Members of Illinois Animal Action Inc. issued a press statement Thursday announcing the protest and criticizing circus members for alleged cruelty to animals.

The group claims Ringling Bros. earlier this year agreed to pay a $20,000 settlement after the company was charged with failing to provide veterinary care for a baby elephant named Kenny.

``Kenny became ill on the road last January and was forced to suffer through two performances rather than given emergency medical treatment,'' according to the release. ``Witnesses reported Kenny was `wailing' and his legs were `wobbly' shortly before he died.''

The group also claims circus officials ``gunned down'' with a 12-gauge shotgun a tiger that had attacked and injured a trainer. Illinois Animal Action further claims the shooting was in retaliation for the trainer attack and was carried out as the tiger ``huddled in his cage.''

Officials from Ringling Bros. were not available Thursday to comment on the group's allegations.

Steve Hyman, executive director for The Mark, said he received a letter from the animal-rights group and will accommodate the protest.

``What we normally do is set aside a location, which we will do in this case,'' Mr. Hyman said. ``They sent a request, and we'll honor it by providing a designated area.''

In addition to specific claims of alleged incidents of abuse or neglect, the animal-rights group claims Ringling Bros. uses inappropriate training methods.

``Ringling Bros. trainers have been videotaped whipping elephants in the face and gouging them with metal hooks,'' said the group's statement. ``Animals are hauled endlessly around the country, living in confinement, deprived of natural behaviors and forced to perform the same tiresome routines through fear of punishment.''

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