On the night of August 6, as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus loaded a 53-year-old performing elephant named Sarah onto a boxcar, she fell and collapsed on the ground.
The circus says the fall was accidental, and Sarah is perfectly healthy. In fact, she's never missed a performance.
But just two months ago, the USDA cited Ringling for violating the Animal Welfare Act by failing to treat this same elephant's chronic medical problem, which could be fatal if neglected.
Sarah has a pus-like discharge in her urine, and an elevated white cell count. Ringling maintains it's a just a chronic condition that's of no concern. Per the USDA inspection report, Sarah's handlers did nothing to treat the infection.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) has filed a formal complaint with the USDA, asking for Sarah to be removed from the circus. ADI's Campaign Director, Matt Rossell, said, "Sarah is sick, and the stress and fatigue has likely led to this dangerous fall."
In its own statement, Ringling's parent company criticized ADI's allegations, calling them "not only false but grossly out of context," and accused ADI of manipulating the incident merely to further its agenda.
Last month, Danielle Graham, director of veterinary services for the circus, contended that Sarah was healthy, and the USDA citation was "basically a difference of veterinarian opinions."
In its steadfast insistence that a sick animal is healthy and by forcing Sarah to continue performing, it is clear that Ringling is only interested in making money and has little concern for the elephant’s welfare.
It's time for Sarah to stop being forced to perform handstands and instead get the medical attention she needs. Sign the petition asking members of the USDA and U.S. Congress to have Sarah removed from the circus.