Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus's elephants and their handlers march from railcars to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011.
by Paul Alexander
Jan 8, 2013
The ASPCA sued Ringling Brothers, but ended up paying the circus $9.3 million to help cover its legal bills. Paul Alexander reports.
Who hasn’t seen the television commercials for animal groups? With heart-touching music playing behind a montage of sad-looking dogs and cats, an announcer pleads for contributions to “save” the animals. No organization runs more of these highly effective ads than the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many contributors agree to donate $18 a month, helping the ASPCA to bring in $111.3 million for the year ending June 2010.
As 2012 came to an end, however, what the ASPCA did not advertise was the fact that, on December 26, $9.3 million in contributions did not go to “save” animals but to Feld Entertainment, the family-controlled company that since 1967 has owned Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which has been in continuous operation since 1919. In settling its lawsuit against “The Greatest Show on Earth,” the ASPCA was admonished by the judge hearing the case that it should have never been filed in the first place, primarily because the group used a paid plaintiff.
To be sure, there’s big money in animal welfare advocacy. During the same period the ASPCA raked in its haul, the Humane Society of the United States brought in even more: $131.2 million. Smaller groups also raised notable amounts: $5.8 million for the Fund for Animals; $2.8 million for the Animal Welfare Institute, and 1.5 million for the Animal Protection Institute.
While these organizations — all tax-exempt 501(c)3s — can vary in size, their goal is the same, says Frankie Trull, a science activist and lobbyist involved in university-based animal research: “These groups believe that animals are not ours to be used to eat or wear — or for entertainment.”
read more at: