To the Committee On Natural Resources & Water:
I pray this finds you and yours well. I commend your service to the people of the State of California and trust that your decision regarding Senate Bill 1062 will be in the best interest of those you are sworn to serve.
I have proudly served as Ringmaster of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey The Greatest Show On Earth for over seventeen years. I am writing in regards to a disturbing bill which is being presented by Sen. Ricardo Lara – Senate Bill 1062. The very premise of SB 1062 is grotesquely misinformed and if passed will be catastrophic. The baseless claims of SB 1062 are rendered not by the animal science community, but, ideologues and their celebrity friends.
Despite recent Federal Court rulings in favor of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and its parent company Feld Entertainment (ASPCA, et al., v. Feld Entertainment, Inc., No. 03-2006 D.D.C.), in which US District Judge Emmitt Sullivan deemed the suit, “groundless,” “frivolous,” and “vexatious,” despite the fact that Ringling Bros. and Feld Entertainment were rightly rewarded a settlement of over $25,000,000.00 – $9.3,000,000.00 from the ASPCA and $15.75,000,000.00 from the Humane Society of the United States in a RICO suit, despite exhaustive studies rendered by the animal science community, among them, Dr. Dennis Schmitt (International Elephant Foundation), Dr. Marthe Kilely Worthington and Dr.Ted Friend (Texas A &M), despite the fact that our methods are approved by the Association of Aquariums & Zoos, Elephant Managers Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association, despite the fact that animals in traveling circuses like Ringling Bros. are subjected to zealous inspections year round, under the authority of Federal, State, and Local governments – which is why I find having to defend our practices yet again to the very people that give the green light to these inspections, rather odd – the mythology of animal misery and mistreatment persist with brash and bold support, both political and celebrity based. Clearly, the war on science and reason has no bounds.
Public policy is now being driven by organizations, who, according to our recent court victories are corrupt enough to actually pay witnesses to fabricate testimony. Tom Rider, formerly of Ringling Bros. was paid over $190,000 for his testimony by our opponents in the aforementioned court case. Public policy is driven by the likes of the ASPCA whose very own veterinarian, Pamela Corey confessed to fabricating statements to bolster the ASPCA’s anti-horse and carriage campaign in New York. This is the same organization while filing lawsuits against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, ironically enough finds no fault with our animal care when they inspect us. According to them, our elephants enjoy, “professional and extremely humane conditions.” Even inspector Beth Les of Ontario’s Inland Humane Society, despite her personal ideology, conceded, “I’ve been inspecting for five years and I have not seen anything that was abusive or unhealthy…their conditions are actually above and beyond for the standards regarding circuses…”
Worst still, public policy is driven by organizations, like PETA and the like, that inspire and support domestic terrorists, like Walter Edmund Bond of Salt Lake City, Utah who burned down a Colorado business, as well as, a factory in Utah. According to Mr. Bond:
“The arson of Sheepskin Factory in Denver was done in defense and retaliation for all the innocent animals that have died cruelly at the hands of human oppressors. Also, be warned that leather is every bit as evil as fur. As demonstrated in my recent arson against the Leather Factory in Salt Lake City. Go vegan!…In a society that values money over life, I consider it an honor to be a prisoner of war, the war against inter-species slavery and objectification.”
This man is hardly a Lone Wolf nor are such inspired crimes isolated. Criminal activities such as these require bomb sniffing dogs to be brought to the dressing rooms of my colleagues and I during appearances at our nation’s arenas. Police monitoring of my mother’s home was required to protect her during our engagement in my home town of New York City. The legislation that Sen. Lara seeks to pass will validate what we as Americans are suppose to be against.
In no way do I object to fellow citizens exercising their Right to Protest and practice Free Speech, even if we may vehemently disagree. This is America. It is only an offense when objections become dangerous as in the case of Walter Edmund Bond. It is equally offensive when in the wake of scientific evidence, experienced expertise, judicial rulings, etc., which sufficiently and soundly discredit these ideological claims, that these baseless accusations and their supporters find an influential audience among our elected officials whom with a mere vote and a stroke of a pen can destroy the livelihoods of many and the very animals they claim they are protecting. That in and of itself is a form of intellectual terrorism which no one, especially an elected official of the State of California or anywhere else in the United States of America should ever give the slightest regard to, no matter what their personal ideology might be. In the very relevant words of President John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
As the Voice of The Greatest Show On Earth, I have the remarkable privilege of experiencing a community beyond description. My hope is that everyone might be privileged to know what I know. If you could only experience the artistry and miraculous camaraderie that exist between human and animal, you would understand why Ernest Hemmingway called the American circus “a dream.” It is truly the science of miracles. We must preserve it and support it; as well as all of those who have spent their lives in the authentic care, study, and preservation of animals. It is your duty to afford them the necessary tools for their work, not restrict them.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this letter and trust that you will seriously consider the contents herein.
Johnathan Lee Iverson
Johnathan Lee Iverson