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ARFF Protests Ringling Bros. Circus At American Airlines Arena

Ringling

First Posted: 01/09/12 01:08 PM ET Updated: 01/09/12 01:19 PM ET

The Greatest Show on Earth is in town at the American Airlines Arena, but not everyone is pleased that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus is back.

ARFF, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, has serious issues with how the big top treats their show animals.

On Friday, when the Ringling Bros.'s Dragon tour opened at the arena, ARFF organized a protest onsite to educate about the circus's animal cruelty. According to Nick Atwood, ARFF's Campaign Coordinator, around 75 protestors showed up to the event. See the slideshow below for social media-shared images from the opening night protest.

Ringling has appeared in headlines over the last 12 months for alleged animal abuse. At the end of November, the Department of Agriculture sided with animal rights activists and fined Ringling Bros. $270,000 -- the largest amount ever assessed against an animal exhibitor, according to New York Times.

Business Week reported that the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service found lacerations on elephants' faces caused by sharp edges in transport trailers, animals being forced to perform despite illness, and contaminated food sources. Feld Entertainment Inc., owner of Ringling Bros., has yet to admit to any wrongdoing.

In addition, early in 2011, the USDA cited Ringling Bros. for failing to adequately treat an elephant's infection, as reported by the Huffington Post. Months later in August, the same elephant collapsed after a performance in California. See the video in the below slideshow

And lastly, a former Ringling trainer posted behind-the-scenes images of elephants being chained, poked, and prodded, and baby elephants being separated from their mothers in 2011. The photos, allegedly taken at a Ringling's farm in central Florida, can be seen on the website, RinglingBeatsAnimals.com.

"Elephants and other animals in the circus suffer routine physical and psychological abuse," said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. "Our message to the public: if you are opposed to cruelty to animals, boycott the circus."

ARFF will continue to host protests outside the American Airlines Arena's north entrance throughout the circus's Miami schedule. The remaining dates are:

Friday, January 13 at 5:30pm
Saturday, January 14 at 1:00pm and 5:30pm
Sunday, January 15 at 1:00pm and 5:30pm
Monday, January 16 at 5:00pm

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Filed by Amanda McCorquodale  |