Anaheim's Political Circus

PETA-Ringling Bros. war spills into Anaheim council chambers, where a circus-animal ban is proposed

In the annals of Orange County neighborhood traditions, Anaheim's train of elephants was always one of the more innocuous ones. Every summer for decades, when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus would stop in town—first at the Anaheim Convention Center, now at the Honda Center—the circus train would linger for a couple of hours along Santa Ana Street, in the middle of one of the city's historical barrios, to the oohs and ahhs of children and parents. The train would then proceed to its temporary home, where the elephants would step out of its cargo trains.

It's beloved, it's photogenic—and now, it's endangered.

On Aug. 21, Anaheim City Councilwoman Lorri Galloway—taking a break from the city's recent long, hot summer of riots—called for an ordinance to ban the use of exotic animals within city limits that, though broadly worded, would predominantly target the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which brings its performing lions, tigers and elephants to town every summer.

Animal activists who'd just alleged to the council that Ringling Bros. routinely harms elephants cheered.

For years, they have tried to get the city to stop allowing performances by circus animals, and for the past couple, they have had Galloway's ear. And eyes. At a July 2010 meeting, after Born Free USA representatives shared with the Anaheim council photos that allegedly depicted the abuse of baby elephants, Galloway said the pictures showed some "terrible, terrible things" and called on the city manager to return with a report detailing how circus animals are treated.

However, striking a diplomatic tone, Galloway also said she supported circuses, which are "part of Americana" and can bring audiences "excitement."

The diplomatic tone is gone now. Galloway was part of a group that in recent years took a backstage tour of the circus, where it was demonstrated that Ringling Bros.' care for animals meets government standards. While she said she agrees the circus does it correctly, she continued that she still opposes using animals for entertainment, according to observers.

Galloway's mind was thus made up when she and her colleagues were greeted Aug. 21 by animal activists who went to the mic with their allegations. The councilwoman was just preaching to the choir.

"What I've seen, the methods used to make a wild animal stand on its head for entertainment, has sickened me," Galloway said. "I know it's considered part of Americana to have elephants in circuses, but it's time for change."

Emboldened by the applause, Galloway then said of prohibiting performing animals, "I think it would be a huge move for the city of Anaheim. Other cities have bans on exotic animals, but they aren't Anaheim. They don't have the Honda Center. It would send a loud message."

Those other cities include Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Santa Ana, which last year tightened rules at its zoo that essentially killed an elephant-ride attraction. The Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa also ended elephant rides just before the start of this summer's run.

A draft ordinance that would require the support of two other Anaheim council members besides Galloway is expected to come back to the dais in September. A strong push back can be expected from Feld Entertainment, the owner of several events that tour the planet, including the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Strongly denying the circus abuses animals, Feld officials routinely point reporters to the Ringling Bros.' wildlife sanctuary in central Florida and websites that document the care for animals in between shows and on the road, where they are well fed, bathed daily and carried in custom, ventilated rail cars. The animals are always under the watchful eyes of trained animal experts with years of experience, according to circus officials, who note that veterinarians are also on the job around the clock.

Licensing, inspections and regulation by local, state and federal animal-care agencies is part of doing business as well, notes Stephen Payne, Feld Entertainment vice president of Corporate Communications.

Take the most recent Southern California swing. Before trains rolled into Anaheim for Ringling Bros.' 10-day engagement at the Honda Center that ended in early August, U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors had been on site at the previous stop, the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Payne tells the Weekly.

In Anaheim, state inspectors were on hand "a lot," says Payne, adding the close federal and California scrutiny resulted in "perfect inspections, no issues."

He believes city officials around the country such as Galloway are being egged on by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which just wants to kill the circus.

"This is just part of their agenda, to keep pushing this," Payne said. "They keep saying their list of jurisdictions is growing. That's not true. Ten million people per year come to the circus, and one person from PETA complains."

He says Anaheim leaders should focus more on what the circus brings to town. Feld conducts economic studies at its tour stops around the country, and, according to Payne, for the recent two-week Anaheim run, the circus pumped $1 million into the local economy. That included revenues from not only the obvious—such as facility rental and ticket, refreshment and souvenir sales—but also taxes, hiring local workers, buying local feed for the animals, food and lodging for touring employees, and more.

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3 comments
newportbeachpuppymil
newportbeachpuppymil

Wow! talk about biased journalism.... you forgot to mention Anaheim near killed Sarah as she collapsed last year with REPEAT VIOLATIONS OF THE ANIMAL WELFARE ACT JUST ONE MONTH BEFORE.... Her Uterus was Necrotic and she was dying from the inside out and ANAHEIM WORKED HER ALL WEEK ANYWAY!...... Feld will soon be hearing From the California State Attorney General because is sale and lies ARE FRAUD UNDER CALIFORNIA STATUTES.... Ringling Bros. Circus is the U.S. Largest Convicted Federal Cruelty Criminal in History.... Convicted by the Government and the USDA!... 27 counts of FEDERAL TORTURE to animals in which SEVERAL ARE DEAD!.... You have no conscience writing this completely non factual  fluff ... You are keeping these animals from getting the help they need... So how many Endangered Wild Animals in the future will suffer for O.C. Weekly!!   4 out 9 Elephants here in 2012 ARE INFECTED WITH MUTATED MEDICAL RESISTANT TUBERCULOSIS IN WHICH VACCINES HAVE ZERO PROTECTIVE VALUE!...  So since I handed the City Council Ringlings Experimental Tuberculosis Treatment study for their Conservation Center that is under Quarantine by the State of Florida, Anaheim will be looking into the Reality of Serious Danger to the public in which Florida have already found Ringling doing by moving Quarantined infected elephants before... Their new calf "PIPER" is born 2 TUBERCULOSIS HUMAN CONTAGIOUS MEDICAL RESISTENT INFECTED PARENTS WHO ARE NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE THE FLORIDA RINGLING HOME... Pretend all you want this is Animal Rights.. I'm a Republican who believes Animal Torture sold under Fraud is still a crime because it Violates FEDERAL AND STATE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.... ORANGE COUNTY REPUBLICANS DON'T NEED TO SELL ANIMAL TORTURE FOR BUSINESS... AND O.C. WEEKLY IS SUPPORTING CRIMINALS WITH BIASED JOURNALISM....IF YOU MESS UP THE UPCOMING SERIOUS HEALTH WARNING ON RINGLING TUBERCULOSIS... OC. WEEKLY WILL BE TALKING TO THE SEC... BECAUSE CDC IS COMING TO ANAHEIM!  --  How long will O.C. Weekly defraud the public of federal torture while lying about CDC Contagious Disease that will kill Orange County Children... THAT IS THE QUESTION ORANGE COUNTY PATRONS AND TAX PAYERS WILL BE WATCHING TO FIND OUT

JamesRobertReade
JamesRobertReade

I do NOT support a ban on exotic animals but I do support a ban on exotic gangbangers in Anaheim! James Robert Reade

newportbeachpuppymil
newportbeachpuppymil

 @JamesRobertReade of course you don't... because you are INHUMANE and don't care about anyone in Orange County such as our Children who could catch resistant TB and die.... Funny that Ireland is banning the whole nation's use of wild animals and most of Europe have banned the use of wild animals.... while Ethical Americans are stuck with you who. is excelling in  ignorance and disrespect for their own Federal Laws so they can watch an elephant stand on its head.... You are tragic... it's true, the masses are a--es but thank goodness Americans don't have to rely on you becaue we haveLegislation already introduced by Feld's own Congressman for a National Ban on wild animals...Ethical Humane Americans will let FEDERAL LAWS AND THE CDC  clean up Ringling's Animal Torture and Serious threat he posses to Orange County children's Lives so he can profit from Criminal FRAUD , TORTURE , AND DEADLY DISEASE... IT DOES NOT GET ANY LOWER ANYWHERE ON EARTH....Ringling is THE BIGGEST BIOHAZARD ON EARTH-- you have no argument except for what YOU WANT JamesRobertReade-- You feel entitled to Endangered animal torture and Deadly threat to Orange County Families... Your mother must be proud.. However the entire WORLD DISAGREES with your Blatent disrespect for our Nation's Federal Laws and Americans

 

 
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