Nov 13, 2014

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: The Greatest Show on Earth. Inside the Circus & Animal Care

A note from the owner:
Metro Detroit Mommy serves a community of over 10,000 local families with varying interests and beliefs. Because of this, we cannot tailor our posts to be acceptable for everyone, but we can assure you that a lot of thought and research goes into the material we provide you, the businesses we promote and activities we support. An example would be that the first time we were asked to promote the circus {specifically, Ringling Bros. owned by Feld} we passed until I could do more research. Upon conclusion of that research I was unable to find any current evidence of animal abuse and actually discovered that Feld won a counter-suit in 2012 against PETA for malicious prosecution, and the court awarded Feld $9.3 million in damages. I am confident that the animals are well cared for at Ringling Bros. It is only in that confidence that I support Feld and the circus in their promotion on Metro Detroit Mommy.

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger - Robin Slawnyk -

Last night, my Husband and I took our two children (ages 3 & 4) to our very first Circus.  Going into it, I knew there were clowns and elephants - but not much more than that.  I have not been to a Circus performance since I was a very young child and I don't remember anything from it.

The lights, costumes, colors, makeup, sound/music was incredible.  Everything was so bright and attention-grabbing with lots of sparkle.  The acrobatics were amazing!  Men and women filled the arena floor doing several different balancing acts, stunts and amazing tricks!

The Ring Master was full of energy and spoke loud and clear, the audience was very engaged with what he was saying.  The tech crew worked fast and almost invisibly to change the scenes for different acts.  The spotlights and sound were right on - for precise show perfection!

My kids were very entertained, they shared lots of ooooh's and ahhhh's, lots of wows - and they looked captivated by the show.  Every parent knows what I mean when I say that that's what it's all about!  Watching them enjoy themselves so much is worth every penny!

Like most adults concerned with animal welfare, I became worried when I saw that the trainers used whips in the performances.  My worry was that the animals were "scared into submission" thinking that if they didn't perform as trained they would be struck.  This was very concerning to me and I began to pay close attention to how the animals were treated.  There was a horse that didn't finish his routine and tried to eat his own harness off, the trainer pet the horse - kissed his main and spoke to him with reinforcements and the horse completed his routine.  I was also afraid that the bunnies were being treated poorly because of the way they were wrapped in scarves and tossed in baskets during the performance of magic tricks.

I immediately began doing research before I proceeded with my promotional blog for The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey.  I found that there are no claims against them for animal abuse and/or neglect.  I learned that they openly host tours of their animal care facilities to animal experts and media as requested.  The caretakers of the animals are professionals that have devoted their careers to the well being of animals.  They state on their website that abuse and neglect of animals is strictly prohibited within their circus system.

"The animal care professionals at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® believe that a positive, healthy environment is the only acceptable and successful method of working with animals. The animals are fed, watered, groomed and cleaned daily. The entire stable area, including individual stalls, is cleaned regularly. The manure is removed and fresh bedding is provided.
Trainers teach animals routines that showcase their physical abilities and beauty, as well as their distinctive behaviors. Our training methods are based on reinforcement in the form of food rewards and words of praise. Verbal or physical abuse and the withholding of food or water are strictly prohibited. Drugs or sedatives are not administered unless prescribed by our vets for medical reasons."
I also learned that Ringling Brothers owns and operates the largest private train system in the US where animals commute in custom built train cars and are under constant care and supervision.  The train routinely stops to allow the animals a break.  Animals that are too old to perform retire to zoos or conservatories that the Circus provides for them.  Baby Elephants born within the circus are kept with their mothers and not weaned before 2 years old.

After doing some research and reading lots of information from the Circus' resources directly and others as well, I have come to the conclusion that my worries are not substantiated and that the animals appear to be cared for and loved by the caretakers and performers alike.

I would, however, love to see the bunnies handled more gently :)

I encourage anyone that is on the fence about this Circus to do some more research at the links below.  If you choose to be supportive of this show, I think you and your family would have a great time and really enjoy the show.

Elephant Conservation  - includes a fantastic video

There are always two sides to every story, so here's the double sided one that I have to share :) 

Cheers to circus adventures!

Robin is a busy Wife and Mom of 4.  She considers herself a stay-at-home Mom even though she is a Photographer and Holistic Practitioner working in her community.  Robin homeschools her children and leads a very natural and organic lifestyle.  You might consider her the "crunchy" one of the group, as her  focus will be on the natural products and services available to us and like-minded families.  You can read more about her lifestyle on


  1. It seemed to me like the horse not being where it was supposed to was all part of the "act". The last tiger also didn't do what he was told, until the trainer said "coochie-coo". I believe the bunnies were supposed to look like they were being dropped in the baskets because it was part of a funny clown act, but they were actually placed down & picked up carefully. That's how I saw it anyway.