Wednesday, November 30, 2011

MIDWAY FLASH! MIDWAY FLASH! Ringling's Alleged Animal Abuse Fine Makes CNN Headlines ...

It flashed across CNN this morning -- jolting me out of my chair as I was slaving heroically over the indexing for my book, Inside the Changing Circus -- a tortuously tedious task taunting my sanity -- a task I do not relish. So, let's take a break, David, I said to myself!

I dug further, and this I struck from the Huffington Post:
"Life's no circus for the Ringling Brothers these days.
The USDA announced Monday that an agreement was reached where Feld Entertainment, Inc., doing business as Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus (Feld), will pay a $270,000 fine for allegedly violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
According to a USDA press release, Feld also agreed to "develop and implement annual AWA compliance training for all employees who work with and handle animals, including trainers, handlers, attendants and veterinarians starting March 31, 2012, and to establish an AWA compliance position on its staff by February 28, 2012."
End of the Huffington.
Am I surprised? In the wake of that horrible PETA undercover YouTube of Ringling elephants being sadistically slapped around by bull hooks and cursed at, no, I'm not.
And certainly not, considering that, as far as I know, the Felds have yet to explain to us how the film footage was, as they claimed when it hit the web, "misleadingly edited."
Mr. Feld? I still await a few peeps from you on the issue. Your explanation, sir?
Why I am so heated over this? Because this kind of news hurts ALL circuses, that's why.
And Ringling Bros. should lead the way, not down into a dark ages ditch, but up onto a higher more enlightened road.


john herriott said...

With a "spin" in justifying their animal handling, etc. and getting circus fans and other circus-animal people in a letter-youtube, etc. saying how great RBBB is and then Mr. Feld admits guilt and pays a fine. He only enhances these AR people and their agenda. Obviously the perpertraters-employees of Rbbb have never been fired or even reprimanded for their stupitity and continue along the way with the "spin" that the circus [RBBB] continues as a broken record. Some names on their roster are personanongrati in the industry and Feld seems to believe his "spin" is working. The bstupitity of the young elephant drowning and so many other rediculous incidents are because of incompetent people of which Feld has a number of. The class people that were there have been shunned and were the ones that did bring some sense to this big boondoggle. Obviously the people now could hardly be capable of intelligent interviews, etc. So certainly they could not be spokespersons in representing the situations hence the "spin". So Feld hirese college educated people that do not have a clue in the operation of their jobs. Also he has never had any of the people in our industry who are highly acclaimed in elephants in handling, training and operations in general to sort things out for complete changes in all of the above that actually are costing Feld serious money. Too bad when they have so many elephants and are not using them for the betterment of the elephants and the circus. Some person that has never trained or handled is supposed to be writing a guideline in how it should be done. What an insult to those that do know. So be it. There is a case to be made in fighting back rather than admit guilt. What a shame and "backwards they go"

Dan H said...

Mr. Herriott ,

I respectfully disagree with your post.Granted every company hires and fires people who may or may not show an ability to do the job in wich they were hired.
But I think you may be showing your own bias as it relates to your own family and the lack of opportunities in the company.For reasons I have no desire to get into at this point.
As to the Felds, they have done more to keep exotics in the circus than any other show producer or "legendary circus family " has. And that is not my opinion those are FACTS ... Ringling does more animal care and handling than any other show in this country , as well as education and PR training .
Every person has a right to an opinion,let's just be careful what we wish for. Maybe we should be happy we have a man with powerful people to lobby against all the bogus bills the animal extremist put up for votes in every community around this nation ..

Brandon, Chicago said...

I'm a big circus fan and have been going to RBBB since I was a kid in the 1980's and now I take my own kids. I've had a hard time over the last few years coming to grips with whether I wanted to either believe the allegations or just ignore them and continue to take our kids to the show. I'm somewhere in the middle!! I'm of the thiking that back in the day people like Gunther and Buckles always treated the elephants with respect and affection? Would you say that was true? While I've always hoped Feld would get this under control it just seems like the issues won't go away....I start to wonder if Feld would be better off just ditching the animals and focusing even more just creating shows somewhere in between Cirque and Big Apple--build on what they seem to still do well-put together lavish productions with even more focus on first class acta...would this attract even more people?

john tanglefoot herriott said...

To Dan H. I am certainly not biased in my opinion for personal family reasons. Where you formedbtat opinion is beyond me. Family have been and no doubt in the future be of service to the Feld org. The old saying holds quite true,quote,I will never have them around here again you can be sure, unless I need them. I would say that I always resigned after completing the tasks assigned to me and then resigned for various reasons and have been on the Red, Blue, Japan Gold, Haines cITY Circus wORLD WHERE ALL MY POSITIOJNS WERE FAVORABLY ACCOMPLISHED BY THE fELDS and would encourage me not to leave. It is true that this org. prefers to not rehire someone who resigned but will bring back some who they have suspended. But it is a good place to be employed with medical benefits that are excellent, etc. I always found myself uncomfortable having to be part of the corporate beauracracy and in the early years having a very long season was financially rewarding, but raising a young family by remote was difficult. No circus school in those days. So it was baancing act. I always wanted to train animal acts, but my abilities of handling people was more important to them. So I was frustrated and "filling up holes".

Now you have commented on things, but no mention of why would the co. admit guilt and if so why wasn't it bremeded. A question that I doubt if you can answer. Why would RBBB when they had the "worlds greatest animal trainer and his adult son plus numerous fine horses and elephants contract a private horse and elephant act to be predominent in ring 2 [center ring]? and continue to hire private elephant acts when they own the largest private herd of Asian elephants probably world wide? So to finalize I have the greatest admiration for the GSOE and am so proud to have stepped into that ring following some the legends who preceeded me. I always say,"Its the greatest show on earth to be from". Am I proud to be or have been part of that wonderful fraternity? You bet I am and I am bothered at what seems to be happening in some cases. I personnally don't believe that the three young ladies now in charge are dedicated or interested in the wonderful concept and tradition and do not realize what they must keep up to the established standards. I know that Irvin Feld loved his circuses but do not believe his dsuccessor has that dedication or devotion. But a rough guess would put him at a billionaire, so it seems ten dollar snowcones are the feature act.yours truly tanglefoot herriott. THru good and bad, thick and thin I always survived with the thought "Herriott rides again" for some sixty five years. Not bad for never having been subsidized nor inherited other than a wonderful father who taught me the elements of my career so well.