Next week, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will return to Baltimore with Fully Charged!, the 141st edition of The Greatest Show On Earth. Everyone at Ringling Bros. takes great pride in presenting quality family entertainment to audiences in Baltimore and across the country.

Unfortunately, animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have used our return to continue their radical agenda by distorting our dedication to animal care and welfare. It's time we set the record straight.


Everyone with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is very proud of our human and animal partnerships, and the physical and behavioral needs of all our animals are a top priority in every city we visit.

All of our animals are trained using a system of repetition and reward. Elephants and horses are transported in custom-built, specially designed railway cars. As a result, the health and vitality of our animals is something we can showcase at each and every Ringling Bros. performance.

The claims of animal cruelty made in recent letters ("Pinkett-Smith is correct: Circus is cruel to elephants," March 12) are a disservice and an insult to the dedicated men and women who spend their lives caring for all the animals with Ringling Bros.

In addition to our daily commitment to providing the very best in animal care, Ringling Bros. is dedicated to preserving the endangered Asian elephant. In 1995, the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation was established to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to experience this magnificent species.

This 200-acre facility was designed for the research, reproduction and retirement of the Asian elephant and enables Ringling Bros. to share its elephant husbandry knowledge with veterinary and conservation organizations around the world.

Since 1992, there have been 23 Asian elephants born at the center, and we have the largest sustainable population of captive Asian elephants in the Western hemisphere. This is a major step for the conservation of this highly endangered species.

So rather than take what extremist groups like PETA say at face value, we invite all Baltimore-area families to come see for themselves how all the animals are thriving at The Greatest Show On Earth.

Stephen Payne

The writer is vice-president for corporate communications at Feld Entertainment, Inc.