WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- A lawsuit filed eight years ago claiming Ringling Bros. Circus has violated U.S. law by mistreating its elephants is finally headed to trial.
Tom Rider, who says he was sickened by what was done to elephants when he worked for the circus between 1997 and 1999, sued his former employer after teaming up with animal rights groups, ABC News reported. He claims the circus violates the Endangered Species Act by mistreating an endangered species, Asian elephants.
"I saw numerous beatings, hitting with the bullhook and constantly chaining them up all the time," he said.
Michelle Pardo, an attorney for Ringling Bros., said the circus and its producer, Feld Entertainment, will convince a jury the elephants are "healthy, alert and thriving."
"Animal special interest groups are distorting the facts by making false
allegations about the treatment of Ringling Bros. elephants as part of a long-running crusade to eliminate animals from circuses, zoos and wildlife parks," she said.
The trial is to begin next week in U.S. District Court in Washington.