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Home » Featured, South Florida Moms, Sunshine Mama Drama

PETA Harasses Mom’s Blog

Submitted by on January 14, 2011 – 6:00 AM20 Comments
PETA Harasses Mom’s Blog

It’s me, Sunshine Mama, Lori and I feel harassed by PETA.  I am a supporter, and fan, of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  I have been ever since I can remember.  PETA claims that the elephants are abused and mistreated in the circus.  I’m sure that PETA would not approve of the long line of ranchers and farmers my family comes from either.  I have not even bothered to contact Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey regarding the threats I’ve received from PETA, as I’m sure that they are harassed by PETA on a daily basis as well.

Let me say first of all that I in no way, shape or form, approve of the mistreatment, or the mishandling, of animals.  I do however believe and live by freedom of speech and the right for individuals to choose their likes and dislikes.  I do not need PETA, or anyone else for that matter, threatening me or pushing their beliefs on me.  I am open minded and all ears, at least once, to all ideas.  Sunshine Mamas is a platform for all mothers to share their ideas and opinions.  This is why I am putting all of this on the table.

I have had several comments from “Ellie’s Mom”, on my Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s blogs, speaking out as a voice for the elephants.  This is all fine and great except for the fact that I can’t help but feel this person is not who they claim to be.  I am here representing myself 100%, where as “Ellie’s Mom” is not a real name (Elephant/Ellie) nor is it a real representation of a person.  It’s someone hiding.  They are claiming to be a concerned mother but I can’t help but feel it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. (See the comments yourself by following the links below.)

Where I am not sure about my commenter, “Ellie’s Mom”…what I do know is that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have created the Center for Elephant Conservation.  The CEC is regarded as one of the most successful Asian Elephant breeding programs outside of Southeast Asia with an unprecedented 20 elephant Births.  Ringling Bros. has also announced $300,000, since 2005,  to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park supporting research projects on endotheliotropic herpes virus, the single greatest threat to the Asian elephant.

Please see my blogs:

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Barnum’s FUNundrum Sweeps Miami!

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Barnum’s FUNundrum Miami: 25% OFF

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Barnum’s FUNundrum at American Airlines Arena, Miami: WIN TICKETS

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  • Ellie's Mom says:

    I am a real person and mother. Have always been passionate about standing up for abused children and animals, it is a childhood thing. I represent no one other then myself. I have never been a member of PETA, but the evidence they have uncovered showing the current Manager of the Center for Elephant Conservation torture training their baby elephants and the videos of Ringling’s adult elephants being beaten can’t be ignored if you believe animals should be treated humanely.
    I was surprised that you and a few other mothers were doubtful about this abusive training especially when you can see dozens of photos. You seem to be satisfied with Ringling’s official website statements about their CEC facility and the excellent care they provide for their elephants and other animals. I guess the thought of having your own childhood circus memories shattered is more than some mothers want to believe. My conscience will not allow me to remain silent when I see such overwhelming proof of abuse from so many different sources. To ignore abuse, is to condone it.
    A few years ago I discovered there are two elephant sanctuary here in the United States, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and PAWS in California. These sanctuaries have rescued dozens of former circus elephants. This is where I found out about the mental and physical abuse these elephants experience at the hands of the circus industry just to make them entertain the public, I was shocked and you will be too.
    Ringling’s likes to mention their Center for Elephant Conservation facility and the 23 elephant births, but they never mention their 26 elephants that have died prematurely during the same time period, from fatal foot diseases and arthritis caused by being chained constantly on concrete and made to perform unnatural tricks in thousands of shows. Ringling had to start breeding elephants to replace the ones dying to keep their circus acts going, this is not conservation of an endangered species.
    In 2009 during a federal trial mountains of documented evidence was presented to the court proving beyond any doubts, that Ringling’s elephants are routinely beaten with a bullhook and electric prods. Documents and video evidences show Ringling’s employees mistreating these elephants. There is testimony given by former Ringling employees who saw these elephants routinely mistreated with a bullhook.
    Internal written documents from Ringling Bros. Circus discuss the mistreatment of its elephants in regards to the bullhook —
    Ringling’s animal behaviorist reported “an elephant dripping blood all over the arena floor during the show from being hooked.”
    Ringling’s veterinary assistant reported that “after this morning’s baths, at least 4 of the elephants came in with multiple abrasions and lacerations from the hooks.” “The lacerations were very visible … a handler applied wonder dust just before the show.” Wonder dust is used to stop the bleeding of a wound; because it is charcoal in color it covers up the spot from public view.
    Under oath Kenneth Feld owner of Ringling Bros Circus admitted that he knows and has seen his employees hook and hit the elephants with a bullhook, and Gary Jacobson manager of CEC admits that bullhooks are routinely used on baby elephants to make them learn circus tricks. In fact there are dozens of photos of Gary Jacobson using bullhooks and Hot Shot to train these baby elephants, he says, “This is the most humane way.” You can look at these photos too, and you won’t see any baby elephants being treated humanely.
    Sadly for the elephants, Judge Sullivan dismissed the trial on a legal technicality (lacked legal standing) before any of the evidences of this elephant abuse could be considered. At the links above you can read these official federal court documents. After reading them you will know beyond any reasonable doubts that Ringling has been torture training these elephants for decades.
    Mothers you can bring this animal abuse to a grinding halt. Just tell Ringling Bros Circus, we are not coming back until you stop the animal acts. I’ve heard Ringling’s human performers are spectacular, so there is no reason why the “Greatest Show on Earth” can’t switch to just human performers, they don’t have to beat humans to make them perform.

  • Vince says:

    I agree with the freedom of speech and thoughts across the board. I think it’s fine for PETA to post comments or let their voice be heard, but I also think there are better ways for them to spend their time than threatening a mother who has kids that happen to like the Circus.

    I think you’re doing a great job sharing stories, voices, and ideas with other Mamas in Florida. Keep up the good work Lori, your blog is a great resource for moms in your area.

    I’m fairly certain your blog post allowing your visitors to win tickets to an event that were given to you can not be considered commercial marketing or promotion for Ringling Bros. or any company they own.

    People for the Ethical Treatment of Circus Clowns

  • Elena says:

    You go girl!

  • Ashley says:

    I’d love to see you blog about opportunities for kids and families to learn about animals in a way that teaches them respect for life. Ringling beats these animals into submission behind the scenes, and the only thing kids learn from the shows is that elephants naturally wear funny costumes and do tricks.

    I agree that we’re all entitled to an opinion, but it’s a fact that Ringling’s elephants are abused from birth to death. As a (real) mom of two, I can’t imagine teaching my kids that it’s ok to brutally force animals to do tricks solely for our entertainment. Can we hear more about animal sanctuaries, online resources, and other humane ways to learn about animals, rather than being encouraged to support a company that harms them for profit?

  • Thank you so much for your feedback, Ashley! I have one of my favorite blogs that I would like to share with you… http://sunshinemamas.com/fit-families-fitness/forever-florida-excitement-adventure-and-education-all-in-one/

    I will absolutely explore some additional entities that support animals, in their natural habitats, within our great state of Florida. If you have any ideas in particular, please feel free to email me at lori@sunshinemamas.com. We are also always open to displaying blogs from Guest Mamas, if you’re interested!!

    Thanks again,

  • Matt says:

    Hi Friends and Fans! How many of you have fond childhood memories or have recently been to the circus? We went to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus last weekend in Miami, FL. Our family had a blast! As most people know my wife has a mom’s blog called http://sunshinemamas.com. Lori wrote a blog about the circus and was harassed by PETA, this week. There were threats of unlawful publicity. I guess “Ellie’s Mom” and PETA don’t understand what makes this country so GREAT, freedom of speech! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sunshine-Mamas/316883148456
    We would appreciate the support for freedom of speech from all of our friends and fans. Please leave a comment on Lori’s blog: http://sunshinemamas.com and like our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sunshine-Mamas/316883148456 We thank all of you for your support!!!

  • Ryan says:

    Ugh..leave it to PETA (aka Ellie’s Mom) to take a dump on your parade. Just ignore these kooks and keep blogging. The only person I feel sorry for is Ellie. Thanks to her irrational mom I’m sure she’ll never get to enjoy the Circus like the rest of the sane world.

  • Ellie’s Mom,

    I can’t help but get irritated every time I read a comment from you. Real people do not hide behind their children (or elephants names). Real people have real Facebook pages (with pictures). I am not protecting my identity as I voice my opinion regarding this controversial issue. Have a great day and if I were you, I would rethink my approach next time you’re trying to be heard.


  • Tiffany Meyer says:

    Is this a bad time to share my home-made elephant ear recipe??

  • Amy says:

    Dear Lori,

    I can vouch that everything Ellie’s Mom writes is true.

    I attended much of the federal trial against Ringling and heard numerous Feld employees admit what PETA (and I am not a PETA member) and other organizations have been charging for years:

    – violence is a routine part of training;
    – elephants are chained for many hours each day (the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses who visited the CEC saw that there were grooves in the concrete — created by the eles who were chained there for so many hours!);
    – babies are taken from their mothers years before they’re weaned to begin their training;
    – elephants can be confined in uninsulated boxcars for as long as 60 hours at a time, standing in their own waste.

    Kenneth Feld, owner of Feld Entertainment, Ringling’s parent company said that no one — not even him — has been to a training session; only trainers are allowed. And that when you’re talking about the bullhook, touch, bop, hit and strike all mean the same thing to him.

    Dennis Schmitt, Ringling’s vet admitted that they know their eles have been exposed to tuberculosis but they can’t be completely sure until after the eles die and they do their necropsy (autopsy). Fyi, tb is transmittable between elephants and humans in close contact. The elephants in the circus catch it from their trainers and handlers.

    I strongly second Ellie’s Mom’s suggestion to read the transcripts and look at the exhibits. You might be particularly interested in the testimony of the expert witnesses who visited the CEC and observed the eles at several other locations. The plaintiffs’ witnesses included Joyce Poole, one of the leading experts on African eles in the world; Carol Buckley, co-founder of The Elephant Sanctuary in TN and founder and president/CEO of Elephant Aid International; Colleen Kinzley, curator of the Oakland Zoo, which has one of the most progressive zoo elephant programs in the country; and Dr. Phillip Ensley, retired San Diego Zoo vet, who reviewed all the Ringling veterinary records.

    Indeed the CEC is one of the most successful elephant breeding centers, but that doesn’t make it a good place for elephants. And, yes, Ringling did give about $330,000 to the National Zoo to study EEHV and elephant reproduction, both of which are largely problems of elephants in captivity, not the wild. I live near the National Zoo and visit frequently. There are many ties between this and other zoos and the circus, but that doesn’t make it right.

    I hope you will spend the time and learn more about what came out of the trial. Ringling has a well-financed p.r. operation to protect its “family entertainment” myth but the reality is far more brutal.

    I also invite you to contact me offline if you would like to discuss this more.

  • Michael P says:

    If the people at PETA had as much concern and compassion for people as they do for animals and pushed their agenda as hard what a lovely world we would live in. That said I find PETA nothing more than another a a group of people with their hand out for money and their open mouth spewing discontent. Ask PETA how many animals their organization YES their organization kills every year.

  • Tom Yankus says:

    Dear Ellie’s Mom,
    First, let me say that I strongly support and believe in freedom of speech. It is what America is all about. Freedom of the press, talk or music radio, TV etc. offers one the opportunity to express one’s viewpoints to all avenues of the media. I don’t always agree with what I hear or see in the media. That’s my right as an American.
    I also understand that, when given the opportunity in this country, one can defend/support a cause or join an organization that does this for you. One will never recruit me AND/OR tell me what I must say, do or believe in. That’s just me. The motives of some organizations often start out with a purpose and end up with extreme wealth for certain individuals. Those at the lower grassroot levels often will make someone at higher levels VERY, VERY rich.
    I make my own life choices. Often I am a “doubting Thomas.”
    My own monitarily rich church has it’s own 2000 year old dogma (no pun intented), my cohorts at the college level are hell-bent over global warming and our politicians make so many, too many laws that dictate what we can and can’t say or do!
    Thank you Ellie’s mom for your thoughts and well researched information regarding what your stance appears to be. Thanks should go out to Sunshine Mama’s for giving you the opportunity (freedom of the press) to express yourself.
    I must say though that the majority of adults are not swayed or influenced by one saying “we can put this (or anything) to a grinding hault.” You can’t sell your philosophy as it were a used car. Remember that, Ellie’s mom.
    One can preach about something all they want. Who is listening?
    Freedom of speech in America also means one should be able to think freely without interference or control.
    By the way…Where is Al Gore on these frigid days these past two winters? Are we warming up or cooling down? What is the correct temp. for Earth, anyway, Mr. Gore?
    I listened to him and wondered what his motives were. Oh, by the way, the grassroot level “Global Warmers” made him a very wealthy man. Ellie’s mom, I’m sure, pays her monthly dues to PETA while those at the top of this organization become very wealthy individuals. Remember “doubting Thomas?” Sometimes he can be wise, too. Mr. Tom

  • Hi Amy,

    Thank you for the information and taking the time to comment. Let me clarify, I am not questioning the validity of Ellie’s Mom’s comments, or the validity of any of the comments on Sunshine Mamas.

    I am proud say that Sunshine Mamas is an outlet for all mothers to voice THEIR opinion. I am simply stating that Ellie’s Mom does not leave HER name. I am here voicing MY opinion…I am Lori McCluskey saying I LOVE THE CIRCUS! When you visit Facebook and search for Ellie’s Mom, you find a blank account, no pictures, no information. To me this says that this person has the gull to push their opinions on me behind a fake name, or even worse their child’s name, if that’s really even the case. Under these circumstances, it’s hard for me to even hear the point she is trying to make.

    Thank you again for visiting and commenting!


  • Dr. Annie says:

    I was an adult when I attended the real Barnum and Bailey’s circus with my two preschool children. I must admit that I loved it as much if not more than they did! Why so? The circus symbolizes to us that there are so many talented people in the world! There are people who are willing to do things that many of us have only dreamed about. There are people who are willing to travel around he world to make others happier; to perform thrilling, exciting, even death defying feats! The circus makes us think about what really matters in life. It sets us free to imagine, to laugh, to dream. The circus tells us that there is more to life than routine jobs and everyday tasks. The circus is not new!! It has been around since the time of the Romans and maybe before then. People need and want to be entertained and challenged to think about being all that they can be. We have a saying hanging on the wall of our home: “Wish it! Dream It! Do It!” How many of us only wish it, and sometimes chance to dream it? But we never do it!! The circus epitomizes those who actually do DO IT!! My very own daughter just graduated from college in the past year. Two summers ago, she received a scholarship to go to circus school in Australia. She wished it. She dreamed it. She did it! She is a trained anthropologist, a dancer, an aerialist, and most of all a die-heart dreamer. At this very moment she is requesting an interview to go to training to be employed by Cirque du Soleil, the renown circus of the world! I am so very proud of her determination to go for her dreams!! And I have no worries about the animals in the circus. Everything that I have ever read makes me feel that the animals are as beloved as the individual performers. There is a great book being read now that will soon be showing in the movie venues, “Water for the Elephants.” It is about the life of a veterinarian who so loved the elephants and the circus life and tells of many other trials and tribulations. As a parent educator most of my life, I would suggest to parents that the circus is full of invitations for individuality, creativity, and spontaneity. I cannot think of any parent who would not want to promote those qualities in their child. Parents, get your popcorn, get a great seat! Enjoy the circus with your children for all the beauty and hope which it holds for all who grab onto the wonder of that trapeze swing!

  • Uncle Diddy says:

    PETA- if you must harass anyone, please come harass me! Leave my sister alone. The elephant likes to do tricks for the kids!

    Also, be who you are, be proud of who you are. If you have to write a novel under the name of an elephant, you are not worth reading. I didn’t even read what you said, but I am sure you have a pet elephant and a pet cow in your backyard. Cows and elephants are not pets!

  • Ellie's Mom, Jane says:

    Lori, thank you for allowing my comments to be posted, you could have easily deleted them and other parents might never know about this animal abuse under the big top. No one likes to be threatened and I’m sorry Peta made you feel that way. I am sure I didn’t say anything threatening to you and can only take responsibility for what I say. Most of the links I listed are from Born Free, who posted the transcripts from the federal trial for anyone to read and The Elephant Sanctuary and PAWS websites. The 2009 trial evidence that Ringling abuses their elephants is damning, you only have to read these transcripts, look at the videos and pictures of these elephants being beaten, to know Ringling has been able to hide their abusive training techniques for decades. Even after all this proof, I’m surprised that some of the other blog commentators don’t seem to want to know or care that these animals are abused to entertain them, they just want their children to have the circus experience.
    The message and evidence of circus elephant abuse is far more important than the messenger, but for Amy and Ashley comments about also knowing about this animal abuse and seeing the same evidence I saw, I would be flogged and silenced by other blog commentators for spreading rumors and lying.
    Sunshine Mamas is your blog Lori, I would expect that your name would appear on the site and you would have a facebook page. I didn’t realize that everyone who follows your blog and comments, are required to leave detailed information and have a Facebook page for their opinions to be valid. While I did express my opinions most of the information I sent was from other sources to prove that what I’m saying is true.
    My name is Jane! My family doesn’t attend circus with performing animals because we think it is wrong to beat animals for entertainment and profit! You don’t have to take my word or Ringling’s word, just do a Google and You Tube search on “circus elephant abuse.” Everybody can’t be lying accept the circus industry.
    There is no reason why Ringling can’t continue their shows just using human performers. I hear they have some spectacular athletes. The success of Cirque du Soleil is proof that performers like Dr. Annie’s daughter can still perform without animals being abused.

  • Thank you, Jane. I appreciate you coming forward.

    Best wishes,


  • Leave it to Dr. Annie to put things in perspective! I love you, Dr. Annie, and I truly respect and appreciate your outlook on life. I feel extremely blessed to know you and work with you.

    All of my love,

  • Kris says:

    I work in cancer research and yes we use animals. We routinely get threats from animal rights organizations so I feel ya. Yeah, I said threats. Hmmm, threats from so called organizations who promote the well being of ALL living creatures. Sounds a little contradictory doesn’t it? Well, as an avid animal lover (and supporter of the circus, animal research, eating meat, blah blah and so on) who now makes her living doing experiments on animals I guess my life turned out to be just as contradictory. As a researcher I would like to point out that animal research is done not only to find treatments or cures for human diseases but also for veterinary (ANIMAL) diseases. I guess the protesters think animals never get diseases?? Oh wait, we are talking about elephant cruelty in circuses…sorry, off on my animal research saves lives tangent again.

    Although I have my own opinion, I like to read about both sides of the story. So as I do with all controversial issues I consulted the WWW. I went to one of the sites listed above that shows the cruel treatment of elephants. All I saw was a baby elephant laying down and doing headstands so it wasn’t very helpful in changing my mind…all in the eye of the beholder I guess. I can tell you from experience that most of the pics on the animal cruelty websites are taken out of context. Also, zoos, circuses and research facilities are regulated by the Animal Welfare Act and are routinely inspected by the USDA and FDA-not to mention several other agencies. All findings are public knowledge and are therefore subject to be misconstrued by people who aren’t experts in the field.

    Interestingly, in my search for knowledge, I did find elephant aid groups/sanctuaries and non circus trainers who all talked about their use of the ankus or bullhook. Apparently, it is the main training tool used by a lot of elephant trainers. The purpose of the hook is not to cause pain but rather to apply strong, clear pressure to very particular control points that the elephant has been trained to react to (stop, turn left, turn right, kneel, stand still, etc.). The hook also extends the trainers reach – like doubling the length of his arm.

    With that being said, as in any job there are idiots who will abuse their position. So am I surprised that there are people in the circus who don’t treat the animals with the respect they deserve? No, just like I’m not surprised that there are nurses who kill patients and lawyers who help free criminals. Having done my share of interviewing potential employees, you think you know who you are hiring but you never know what you get until they get on the job. I would hope that anyone who decides to work with animals has compassion for them…I know that is not the case though. If, in fact, Ringling Bros. does nothing about the supposed cruelty that is going on at their circuses then shame on them. I highly doubt that it is the practice of most elephant trainers to be abusive.

    P.S. Love the circus pics, looks like everyone had a blast.

  • Arwen says:

    HI Lori, I am an animal advocate and have donated my time and money to many many animal nonprofits, but I can’t bring myself to donate to PeTA. As an animal lover, I do respect them for some things that they’ve done to help animals. However, I just don’t always agree with how they do it. Two wrongs don’t make a right. So, I wanted to be upfront and say that I’m not a PeTA member or supporter.

    Given that though, I am hugely opposed to using animals in circuses, especially wild animals like elephants. I now goto Thailand every year to volunteer on elephant sanctuaries and have really gotten to understand how elephants live, stay healthy, form social/family bonds, etc. Without even considering the proof of how abusive circuses such as Ringling Bros treats their animals, just knowing how an elephant actually LIVES a good, natural life, I wouldn’t want to attend a circus. Circuses have the elephants chained up (sometimes in very filthy conditions) for about 20+ hours a day, when elephants normally roam for miles a day (and this also keeps their feet healthy). In circuses (and esp. at the Ringling Bros conservation center), elephant babies are usually taken away from their mothers. I’ve been able to witness the beautiful, protective bond that not only the mother’s but the aunties of the pack feel for the young in the group (and witnessed how upset the females of the groups can get even if the young are remotely close to even the smallest danger). Elephants are extremely social animals and naturally choose their groups and have shown proven signs of depression. In circuses, they are often confined alone (and they do this type of “swaying” motion constantly when they’re stressed) Elephants also feel so many sensations through their feet and ears, and I can only imagine how stressed this animal must feel amongst the bright artificial lights and noise.

    I won’t list the websites and evidence again that have already been posted here. But, I agree with the evidence that circuses (esp. Ringling) do greatly abuse their animals to get them to do the tricks they are supposed to do. I will agree that elephants are just incredibly intelligent and if all it took was to “tell” them to stand on their head or form pyramids, they could. But, they are not trained in humane ways to achieve this for entertainment. The circuses want to make sure they do it flawlessly every time and they are basically tortured to get them to do these tricks. Now, I’ve had people give the argument that elephants’ skin is two inches thick and the bullhook doesn’t really hurt them. I strongly disagree. An elephant roars when the bullhook hits them. I am pretty sure it’s from pain. When I was volunteering, our group came across a sweet baby elephant (who unfortunately wasn’t part of our sanctuary) who was being trained by its owners to do circus tricks. This poor thing squealed in pain when the bullhook hit it, even if it wasn’t with extreme force. It still felt it and writhe so much to avoid it (but of course, it was tied up..very similar to the photos that an Ex- Ringling trainer handed over). An elephant needs to be “broken” in order to get it to do these routines and cooperate in something that’s not natural for them. That’s where the bullhooks and electric prods come in

    I really wish people who stop supporting circuses that use animals as entertainment, esp. wild animals. I believe in educating people and allowing them to make the decision. Everyone has a choice and IF their choice is to take their children to these circuses and support this type of entertainment even though they know how the animals are actually treated, well…I can’t stop them. I can only politely ask that people educate themselves on how the animals are treated and trained. I believe in knowing both sides of the story too, and have actually reached out to Ringling employees to hear their arguments. However, it was not enough to convince me that circuses are right for elephants.

    Thank you very much for opening this up and allowing me to voice my opinions on here. I really hope that people stop supporting circuses with animal entertainment. But, I at least thank you for reading my comments.