11/29/2011 // WPB, FL, USA // Injury Lawyers News // Nicole Howley

Vienna, VA — In the largest Animal Welfare Act settlement ever assessed to an animal exhibitor, the owner of Ringling Bros. circus has agreed to pay a $270,000 fine to settle allegations of mistreatment of their animals, reported Fox News.

The Virginia-based owner of the renowned circus, Field Entertainment, which also owns other acts like Disney on Ice, is not admitting to violating any laws, but rather would like to resolve its differences with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ringling Bros. was accused of violating federal animal-welfare laws in regard to its handling of elephants, tigers, zebras and other exotic animals.

According to inspection reports dating back to 2007, the circus handlers made sick elephants perform in shows and used the same wheelbarrow to feed meat to the tigers and to remove their waste.

A 35-year-old female Asian elephant, Banko, was forced to perform in a Los Angeles show, although the elephant was diagnosed with sand colic and appeared to be suffering from abdominal discomfort, according to an August inspection report.

In addition, inspectors found splintered floors and rusted cages that were being used for the big cats. Also, in March 2008 and in 2010, zebras escaped their enclosures and were captured by area law enforcement.

Under the settlement, Ringling agreed to hire a compliance officer to enforce the regulations in the Animal Welfare Act, and require its employees who handle animals to complete compliance training.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for Virginia animal rights lawyers.

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