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Protesters Greet Ringling Bros. In LA, FBI’s Largest Review of Forensic Evidence, and…Bears


With more than 35 municipalities in the US restricting use of animals in circuses, the Ringling Bros. residency at the Staples Center this week is not without controversy. Hundreds of activists rallied Wednesday (opening night) to protest the “Cruelest Show on Earth” PETA’s undercover investigation of Ringling’s elephant conditions produced some pretty shocking footage of treatment of the animals (some in the above video narrated by Alec Baldwin).

KPCC’s blogdowntown’s Omar Shamout has the story. Here’s a clip:

Hundreds of animal rights activists gathered outside Staples Center Wednesday at a PETA-organized rally against Ringling Bros. Circus – an organization protestors say abuses the wild animals in its traveling show.

Clad in tiger suits, paper-mache elephant heads and faux-ringleader outfits, the contingent lined both sides of Figueroa Boulevard to greet patrons with posters showing what they say is photographic evidence of the inhumane treatment of circus elephants by Ringling Bros. trainers. Most of the circus’ endangered Asian elephants are raised from captivity at the company’s Center for Elephant Conservation in Central Florida.

PETA spokesman Matt Bruce called on Angelenos to boycott [Ringling Bros.] and argued there is no such thing as a humane circus that uses animal performers. Bruce said the baby elephants on display inside Staples Center were “torn from their families, forced to perform under the threat of extreme punishment, gouged with bull hooks, and even tied to the concrete floor of a barn for up to 23 hours a day to break their spirit.”

KPCC’s Larry Mantle had Feld Entertainment’s Stephen Payne on AirTalk, along with animal rights activist Catherine Doyle. Here’s a clip from the show:

“In essence circuses are inherently cruel for wild animals, whether it’s Ringling or any other circus,” Catherine Doyle, spokesperson for In Defense of Animals, said. “These animals are separated from their families, brutally trained to perform unnatural tricks, they’re chained, confined to small cages and pens, and transported around the country in cramped train cars and trucks for months at a time.”

Doyle is opposed to any form of circus, saying that the humane treatment of animals cannot be done in those conditions.

“If you cannot meet the animals needs. If you cannot meet their physical, social and psychological needs, you should not hold those animals,” she added.


“We are very, very proud of our animal care and to have the ability to showcase these animals to families around the country who really can’t see them in any other forum except ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’,” said Stephen Payne, vice president of corporate communications for Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Bros. Circus.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus raises most of its animals from captivity in their Central Florida compound, according to Payne.

“Unfortunately, this idealized wild that everyone speaks of really no longer exists. Asian elephants are highly endangered, there’s only about 35,000 left in the world. And really the animals at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey are ambassadors for their species,” Payne said.


The FBI announced that it will be conducting the largest ever review of forensic evidence in post-conviction cases–possibly reaching back past 1985–to determine if there were any wrongful convictions due to flawed evidence data.

The Washington Post’s Spencer Hsu has the story. Here’s how it opens:

The Justice Department and the FBI have launched a review of thousands of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted or deserve a new trial because of flawed forensic evidence, officials said Tuesday.

The undertaking is the largest post-conviction review ever done by the FBI. It will include cases conducted by all FBI Laboratory hair and fiber examiners since at least 1985 and may reach earlier if records are available, people familiar with the process said. Such FBI examinations have taken place in federal and local cases across the country, often in violent crimes, such as rape, murder and robbery.

The review comes after The Washington Post reported in April that Justice Department officials had known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people but had not performed a thorough review of the cases. In addition, prosecutors did not notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.


Bears have been spotted in and around LA County quite a bit this summer–looking for food, swimming in pools, and getting trapped in garages.

LA Weekly’s Dennis Romero has the story on some of the recent bear sightings in the area. Here’s a clip (and a video!):

Fish and Game officials announced they’ve captured one of the black bears suspected of going domestic in Duarte Monday.

It was a little one:

City News Service reports the 150 pounder was tranquilized in Duarte late yesterday by Fish and Game officials. It was captured in the 900 block of Swiss Trail Road about 3:30 p.m., according to CNS.

Fish and Game officials were triumphant, tweeting, “Bear captured!” yesterday.

It was believed to have been the juvenile, who was travelling with his mom and a sibling, that got into a garage in the 200 block of Greenbank Avenue in Duarte Monday. The same day a bear sighting was reported outside a home near Mount Olive Drive and Mount Olive Lane in neighboring Bradbury. Yet another sighting was reported near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena Tuesday.

Here’s a very cool video clip of a mama bear rescuing a cub from a South Lake Tahoe garage (no known relation to the Duarte bear):

By the way, the Department of Fish and Game has some helpful pointers for avoiding (and, if necessary handling) bear encounters.


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