Ringling circus agrees to $270K fine by USDA

VIENNA, Va.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the civil penalty announced Monday is the largest ever assessed against an exhibitor under the Animal Welfare Act.

Vienna-based Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, said it does not admit to violating the law and agreed to the settlement as a cost of doing business to resolve its differences with the USDA.

In inspection reports from 2007 through this year, inspectors said circus handlers made elephants perform when they were ill and used the same wheelbarrows to feed meat to tigers and haul away their waste, among other allegations.

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