The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
Dear Mr. President,
In 2006, you made an inquiry to the USDA, in behalf of your constituents, regarding the status of three cases of egregious cruelty by Feld Entertainment (dba Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus). At that time, you were assured that the USDA would “pursue appropriate enforcement action” in all three cases. However, the USDA’s Office of the General Counsel has yet to take enforcement action of any kind, and evidence of Ringling’s cover-ups, interference with investigations, and tampering with evidence are contained in the USDA’s own records and in sworn testimony.
My friends at PETA are now challenging the Office of the General Counsel’s inaction and petitioning the USDA to begin enforcement proceedings. I am writing to respectfully request that you direct Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to prosecute these three cases involving Ringling’s illegal conduct in the following incidents:
· Clyde, a 2-year-old lion, was killed when he was left to bake to death in a boxcar as the circus traveled through the Mojave Desert on a scorching July day when temperatures exceeded 100 degrees. The circus refused to stop so that Clyde could be given water because the train was behind schedule.
· Eight-month-old baby elephant Riccardo was killed during a violent training session in which workers used ropes and bullhooks to force him to stand on a circus pedestal. He fell off the pedestal, breaking both of his legs, and had to be euthanized.
· Angelica, an elephant, was beaten with a bullhook while she was chained by two legs.
I ask that a member of your staff meet with PETA’s captive-animal protection staff in order to discuss this matter. The nation has recently witnessed such lax regulatory enforcement and abdication of responsibility in the cases of the West Virginia mining tragedy, the BP oil spill, and the banking scandals—with dire consequences. The USDA’s Office of the General Counsel must be held accountable in the performance of its duties and the promise that animal protection will be secured under the law. PETA and I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your consideration.