Cloris Leachman calls on Mayor Buckhorn to protect injured elephants with Barnum & Bailey Circus

  • Cloris Leachman

An annual tradition that takes place in Tampa after the New Year is the near week-long stay of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

And with it comes controversy, as animal rights groups such as the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for years have decried what they say is the inhumane treatment of animals by the circus, a charge that Ringling Brothers officials consistently deny.

But the USDA did announce in late November that Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Brothers, would pay a $270,000 fine for allegedly violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), though Feld did not admit to violating any laws when it paid the fine.

Oscar-winning actress, TV veteran and animal rights activist Cloris Leachman referenced that fine in a letter sent last month to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, in which she advocated that the mayor arrange for thorough inspections by an independent veterinarian of the animals performing in Tampa and prohibit any lame or crippled elephants from performing.