15-year-old puts bill to ban circuses on the ballot in a longtime Ringling stronghold
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2004:
DENVER–Denver voters on August 10 will
be asked to approve an initiative to ban circus
performances, placed on the ballot through
petitioning by Heather Herman, 15, and Youth
Opposed to Animal Acts, a group she founded.
Herman is challenging Feld Entertainment,
owners of the Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey
Circus, in a Ringling stronghold.
“The Ringling circus has performed in
Denver since 1919,” noted Cindy Brovsky of
Associated Press, “The city’s Barnum
neighborhood is named after circus founder P.T.
Barnum, who bought 760 acres in 1882 as a winter
respite for his showŠCity officials estimate the
circus’ annual two-week stint pumps $8 million
into the local economy.”
Herman will be working against ruthless
as well as influential and affluent opposition.
PETA in a lawsuit filed in May 2001 and refilled
after amendments in 2002 alleged that Ringling
and Feld Entertainment hired the private security
firm Richlin Consultants to infiltrate and
disrupt PETA from 1989 until 1992.
The spy job was allegedly directed by
Clair E. George, who was CIA deputy director of
operations from 1984 to 1987. Responsible for
all CIA covert activities, George was convicted
of lying to a Congressional subcommittee in 1987,
but was pardoned in December 1992 by former
President George H. Bush. Bush, father of the
current President, had previously served as CIA
The infiltration came to light when a spy
tried to sell information about the job to
Progressive Animal Welfare Society founder Pat
Derby, who was also an infiltration target.
Derby sued Feld Entertainment in June 2000. Feld
reportedly settled the case by agreeing to retire
several circus elephants to the PAWS sanctuary
and fund their upkeep.