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IDA Files USDA Complaint
Ringling Bros. Circus Endangering Baby Elephants
IDA has long campaigned against the cruel treatment of baby elephants in circuses: from the traumatic separations of mothers and babies for brutal training to the endless travel, chaining and forced tricks that damage their still developing bodies. IDA is again fighting for these innocent calves, this time by filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding the calf Barack, who has been forced to perform with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and who is now diagnosed for a second time with a virus that is deadly to elephants.
Barack was born on January 19, 2009 and was forced into travel and performance before he was a year old. Early video shows him in the circus ring surrounded by bullhook-wielding handlers. After only a month of such stressful performing, Barack tested positive for the elephant herpes virus in January of 2010, and was taken back to Ringling’s breeding center for treatment. Barack returned to the show in July - and 7 months later suffered a recurrence of the virus that strikes mainly young Asian elephants and has a 85% mortality rate.
Far too little is known about the virus and how babies contract it, but it is widely acknowledged that stress takes a toll on the immune system, and compromised immunity allows a virus like this to take root.
Elephants as young as Barack would never naturally be separated from their mothers. Female calves stay with their mothers for life, and males well into the adolescent years. They are not weaned until they are at least five. Forcing baby elephants into performance requires the forceful disruption of the maternal bond. Although Bonnie, Barack's mother, traveled with him, they were allowed only minimal contact, another source of great trauma and stress.
Ringling's greed and cynicism have broken Barack and put this vulnerable calf on the road, leading to his contracting a dangerous, usually deadly, disease not once but twice. IDA is asking the USDA to intervene to protect Barack before it is too late for him, as well as other calves at Ringling and other circuses who are forced to perform.
- Can you shoot video and still photos of the calves with the Ringling Bros. Circus or Carson and Barnes Circus when they come to your city? If so, contact us at: email@example.com.
- Join IDA’s Elephant Task Force.
- Join IDA's Elephant Facebook page to check for circus schedules, notices of protests in your area, and the latest news on elephants.
- Visit www.HelpElephants.com for the latest news and information about elephants and IDA’s actions on their behalf.