Representatives of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus dispute claims animal abuse made by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Tuesday in Des Moines. PETA says the circus keeps their animals in small cages and beat them to get them to perform. Bruce Read is the vice president for animal stewardship for Ringling Brothers. He says,”Those are innuendos that, that are not substantiated in any fact whatsoever. Our training methodology works on positive reinforcement, repetition, and reward.” Read says the claims that the circus fails to take proper care of the animals is also not true. He says they live with the animals, care for them, make sure they’re fed and exercised and watered. He says they put the animals in “normal social situations” so they “can be the animals that they should be.” Read says PETA’s claims are not based on fact, but “emotional based rhetoric.” Read says the circus plays an important educational role as the U.S. transitions from a rural to an urban society. He says people are losing in the transition their connection to animals, agriculture, to conservation and the biology of animals. “One of the things the circus does is to comes to cities, to major urban areas, and has animals for people to see.” He says they can see for instance that an elephant is a “really magnificent animal.” Read says the circus is not the dark, dangerous thing that PETA would like people to believe. “This is a great family event, ” Read says. “It’s something a family can share. You can see animals close up, you can have entertainment, you can learn something. And hopefully we can inspire them to reach out and take care of the conservation of animals in their range countries. And outreach so it’s an educational asset.” Ringling Brothers national spokesperson Darren Johnson says you have to consider PETA’s plan when they speak out against the circus. He says, “These folks are against any human interaction between humans and animals. That means, not only animals in circuses, but animals in zoos, animals in agriculture, animals as house pets. And we can agree to disagree with them, because Ringling Brothers believes that there’s something beautiful about the interaction with humans and animals.” The Ringling Brothers circus will be in Des Moines next month.
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