Yesterday, I met with RaeLeann Smith, a representative of PETA. Ms. Smith brought along what she described as a secretly recorded video showing elephant handlers from Ringling Bros Circus abusing their charges. The video, on its face, was disturbing.
Because I only heard one side of the story, I am not going to draw any conclusions. But, I have asked the City’s Health Department to reach out to Ringling Bros before they arrive here for a scheduled performance next month and discuss the welfare of all circus animals, including the elephants. In addition, Health Department staffers will conduct inspections of the animals’ conditions before the circus’s performance — and an Animal Care Officer will be present on site from the time the animals are up and fed in the mornings until they are bedded down at night.
In media accounts, Ringling Bros says they treat all of their animals well. I am not assuming that they won’t. But, asking the Health Department to monitor the animals will ensure that everyone — people and animals — enjoy their stay in St. Louis.