(WASHINGTON) -- The owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has agreed to pay $270,000 to make a USDA animal cruelty investigation go away. The agency calls this civil penalty the largest ever assessed against a circus under the Animal Welfare Act. The circus also has agreed to require a training regimen “for all personnel who work with and handle animals.”
"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 the announcement.
The circus has long been in the crosshairs of animal rights activists and this settlement resolves “alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) dating from June 2007 to August 2011.”
PETA had sued the USDA over alleged lack of enforcement of the AWA in regards to this circus. Feld Entertainment, which runs the circus, denies the allegations and calls the settlement “a business decision.”
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