Feld Entertainment Inc, the parent company of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey, has agreed to a $270,000 settlement with the US Department of Agriculture for mistreating its animals, particularly the elephants. While not as awful as the beating August laid on Rosie in Water For Elephants, the two circuses apparently chained the animals’ legs in between performances and used metal bullhooks to keep the massive creatures on line while they were walking. Both are violations of the animal welfare act and each offense carries with it a $10,000 fine.

In reality, it’s likely both Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey shirked protocol more than twenty-seven times, but seeing as how the case was settled and it still represents the largest fine for such offenses ever doled out, it’s hard to call the settlement anything but a victory for animal rights groups. Because of the agreement, Feld Entertainment Inc doesn’t technically have to admit any misbehavior, but the company has already released a statement saying it’s cooperating with the USDA to enact new procedures to make sure no animals are harmed in the future.

According to CNN, objections were first raised by two animal rights groups who brought the company to court, but the lawsuit was thrown out because technically neither company itself was harmed by the cruelty. Following the dismissal, the USDA stepped in, and that’s when Feld Entertainment Inc decided to settle the manner and move forward with an alteration of its methods.

Many activists think the circus is inherently cruel to animals. Whether you believe that or not, today’s decision is still a victory for the elephants that are in the circus. Progress has been made.

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