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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus scored a rare two-fer today, generating attention to what it considers generous treatment of its performing animals and butts in seats for a 12-day run that begins tonight at the Honda Center. Actually, make that a three-fer: the circus also generated oodles of free media coverage, including posts in the Orange County Register, what you're reading here and another damn fine Keith May slideshow.
See, Asian elephants Toby, Banko, Siam and Baby got baths before the bright media lights. Who wouldn't want to lather up on a scorcher like today? But shots of up to 8,000 lbs. mammals frolicking in the cool water was also meant to counter claims by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Orange County People for Animals (OCPA) and other animal activists that circus elephants are mistreated through the use of bull hooks, locked chains and lack of emergency medical attention. Promoter Feld Entertainment counters evidence of this is old and unrelated to Ringling Bros.
Who's right? Who knows? The courts are sorting it out now. Meanwhile, folks on either side of the issue would have to agree that wet elephants are so hot right now.