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Ringling Brothers pays fine for animal abuse in circus

The parent company of Ringling Bros. circus will pay $270,000 to settle a lawsuit that alleged the show had violated the Animal Welfare Act on several occasions between June 2007 and August 2011, CNN reports.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Protection Institute against Feld Entertainment Inc., the owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circuses. The groups alleged that these circuses are a violation of the Endangered Species Act, under which the elephant is protected. They said that the shows systematically abuse and exploit this animal by using metal bullhooks to guide and control the animals and chain their legs while not performing.

"This settlement sends a direct message to the public and to those who exhibit animals that USDA will take all necessary steps to protect animals regulated under the Animal Welfare Act," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a USDA press release, according to CNN.

Feld also agreed to develop annual Animal Welfare Act compliance training for all employees who work with animals starting March 31, 2012, The Huffington Post reports. 
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