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Ringling Bros. Hit with Largest Fine in Circus History for Mistreatment of Animals

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Actress and comedian Olivia Munn recently took to the Huffington Post to decry the terrible treatment of animals at Ringling Bros. circus. She told the story of Sarah, a sick 54-year-old elephant who collapsed over the summer, but was forced to get back up and board a train rather than receiving medical care.

In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has hit the century-old traveling act with a $270,000 fine, the largest in circus history.

According to a press release from the agency, the fine was administered after the USDA found Feld Entertainment, the company that owns Ringling Bros., to be in violation of the Animal Welfare Act. The act ensures that animals who are used for public exhibits are treated humanely (some might argue that those two things are mutually exclusive, but that's another post for another day).

The fine is the largest in circus history, but PETA, who led the charge on bringing Ringling Bros.' violations to the attention of the federal government, is asking for Sarah to be seized so she can receive medical care and retire.

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"PETA's complaints against Ringling Bros. with regard to crippled elephants, the death of a baby elephant, the beating of other elephants, and the killing of a lion, going back several years," the company said in a statement. "The government has taken a first step, and now it must confiscate the elephants. What remains to be done is for the public to be made aware of this history of abuse so that people will know to keep their children away from the circus."