Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, must now pay the largest settlement of its kind in U.S. history? $270,000?for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) dating from the present back to 2007.

PETA has been after the USDA all this time, including recent meetings during which we presented unequivocal evidence of animal abuse, including beatings, the death of a lion, lame elephants forced to perform despite pain, and a baby elephant who died during a training routine, to take action against Ringling for abusing the animals in its care. We had recently filed a new formal request for action against Ringling, and our attorneys had met with the USDA’s general counsel and urged her to begin enforcement proceedings.

Among the evidence that PETA presented were testimonial and photographic evidence that baby elephants at Ringling’s training compound are torn away from their mothers and subjected to violent training sessions so that they will learn how to perform tricks and video footage from a PETA investigation showing how elephants used by Ringling are whipped, beaten, and yanked by heavy, sharp steel-tipped bullhooks behind the scenes, prior to performing.

In addition to receiving the largest civil penalty ever assessed against an exhibitor under the AWA, Ringling must now provide all employees who handle animals with training and hire a staff member dedicated to AWA compliance. We will see how that goes.

The government has long failed to act but now has finally taken action. It’s a great start, but no one should forget that elephants and other animals pay the price every time anyone buys a ticket to the circus. Make sure your friends know why they should never by a ticket and show them our videos!