It’s a familiar story, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) playing bully in the courts — but this time they met their match. Fourteen years of back and forth ended in May between HSUS and Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. Having been accused of going against the Endangered Species Act (ESA) with their herd of Asian Elephants, Feld Entertainment spent big and came out on top, ultimately settling with HSUS and other plaintiffs for upwards of $15.75 million. This hefty sum no doubt caught HSUS off-guard, as they typically have a stronghold on money, allowing them to make baseless accusations and win. Feld knew that to defend their company’s reputation was worth any cost, and that bet has certainly paid off — literally.
So, donors, aren’t you glad that this is where your money is going? To the petty pursuits of HSUS; seems like they’re throwing money at all but animal shelters (where they claim to spend it). It’s sad, really, because while Feld Entertainment can now rest easy, it took over a decade of having their very livelihood questioned. Farmers and animal producers alike can certainly relate, here, the money being minimal compared to the distress caused. In a statement by Feld Entertainment, they summarize this disappointing trend: “The animal liberation movement has long been associated with extremist, bullying, and sometimes even terroristic tactics in pursuit of its radical goal to institute prohibition on how we use animals, whether for food, fiber, or entertainment.” But it is worth questioning these motives, because it is hard to believe HSUS had animal welfare in mind during this frivolous suit; especially when Barnum & Bailey is renowned for its Center for Elephant Conservation.
Going one step further, take for example a case in 2003 against the San Diego Zoo for its importation of elephants from Swaziland. In a statement for the plaintiffs, who included the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and other activist groups, a representative said: “If the elephants are euthanized in Swaziland … that would be a better outcome than to have these elephants put in crates, put on airplanes, brought over here, trained with bull hooks, put in cages, and live the rest of their lives in captivity.” This not only represents the delusion of animal activist groups, but also the confusion that often surrounds the circus. It is not abuse to train an animal, and if it were, then you’re house-trained Labrador could send you to jail. Poor animal welfare is a baseless accusation when the evidence is an elephant that can turn or tiger that can leap.
Before you donate, do your research and make sure that money is going to an organization truly in the business of representing animals.
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