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September 30, 2013 at 11:21 AM
Ringling Bros. animals are thriving
In their recent letter to the editor, Nancy and David Spilberg have their “facts” about Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey animal care all wrong. [“Northwest Voices: Here comes the circus,” seattletimes.com, Sept. 23.]
The claims they make are a direct affront to the men and women with Ringling Bros. who care for our animals 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it’s time we set the record straight.
Ringling Bros. has more than 143 years of experience caring for elephants, tigers and other exotic animals. We are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Spilbergs seem to echo claims made by other animal-rights activists, by demonizing approved elephant-husbandry tools that are humanely used by highly trained and experienced professionals.
All of the routines audiences see at Ringling Bros. are based on the animals’ natural behaviors (yes, elephants lie down, sit up and stand on their heads, I’ve seen it firsthand), and all of our animals are trained using only positive reinforcement, repetition and reward.
Everyone with Ringling Bros. hopes Greater Seattle-area families will come and see for themselves what we know to be true: that our animals are healthy and thriving in our care.
Stephen Payne, vice president of corporate communications, Feld Entertainment, Vienna, Va.
September 6, 2013 at 6:33 PM
Panel is trivializing damage
The report recently issued by the Woodland Park Zoo elephant task force’s “expert panel” was predictably disappointing. [“Experts suggest changes for zoo’s elephants,” NW Thursday, Aug. 29.]
By opting to use innocuous terms such as “reduced joint mobility” and “occasional foot cracks,” instead of the more accurate “captivity-related arthritis” and “chronic foot infections” (both causes of premature death in zoo elephants), the panel has obviously chosen to trivialize and whitewash the shocking physical deterioration of the zoo’s three surviving elephants.
The Seattle City Council made a terrible mistake by allowing the zoo to control this task force. The result is a rubber-stamp committee of mostly current and former zoo board members and industry insiders, blindly loyal to the zoo and utterly disinterested in examining the profound damage that decades of inhumane confinement have had on the zoo’s elephants.
The Seattle City Council should remedy its mistake by forming a truly independent and objective task force.
Nancy Farnam, Edmonds
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