In a recent opinion piece for the Los Angeles Daily News, the Humane Society of the United States attacked elephant guides, a tool that is used to train circus elephants. While the usage of this guiding tool has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, HSUS attempts to use this instrument to drum up hysteria against the circus. There’s just one problem for HSUS, and it can be found in the file photo accompanying its piece.
The HSUS column features an image of Tom Rider, a former circus elephant trainer who was at the forefront of a HSUS-supported lawsuit against Feld Entertainment (the parent company of Ringling Brothers Circus). In response to the HSUS column, a vice president for Feld replies:
Readers should also be wary of the opinions of HSUS. This is the same organization that, in the words of a federal judge, participated in a lawsuit against Ringling Bros. parent company, Feld Entertainment, that was “groundless and unreasonable” from its start and relied on hidden payments to their lead plaintiff. In fact, the very photo used with their commentary was their paid plaintiff who, again in the words of a federal judge, “lied about the payments” he received, “was essentially a paid plaintiff,” and, most striking, “was pulverized on the witness stand.” This decade-long legal deception led HSUS and their allied groups to pay Feld Entertainment more than $25 million to settle a lawsuit they should have never brought in the first place.
Tom Rider was the paid plaintiff referenced above. This image serves as a perfect reminder of why HSUS has no credibility on the issue of animal welfare. When HSUS had the chance to make its case against circus elephant handling in court, the lawsuit was thrown out. And HSUS agreed to an enormous financial settlement using donor money (HSUS’s insurance company declined to cover HSUS).
Despite getting embarrassed in court, HSUS is shamelessly proceeding with its campaign. It goes to show that the group doesn’t care about the facts—it cares about its agenda. Facts are just an inconvenient hurdle.