Misdirection: “The HSUS was forced to pay millions of dollars in a federal racketeering lawsuit.”
Truth: The HSUS was dragged into a lawsuit by the company that ran a circus that paid record fines for violations of the Animal Welfare Act and ultimately ended using elephants and other animals. The circus filed the case in retaliation after animal groups sued over elephant abuse made in 2000.
A judge dismissed the case and never ruled on the underlying claims. The settlement by 12 parties in 2014 allowed the animal welfare groups to focus on their mission of protecting animals rather than be tied up in court. The HSUS was never a party in this lawsuit. The Fund for Animals was a co-plaintiff with other animal welfare groups before becoming affiliated with the HSUS in 2005.
When the circus owners countersued the plaintiffs, they included several non-parties including the HSUS. The multi-party settlement in this case resolved the matter and specified no wrongdoing by any party.
Following the settlement and after years of mistreatment of animals, Ringling Bros. announced that it would retire its performing elephants in 2016 and not long after that, announced they would be closing the circus entirely, acknowledging changing public sentiment against the use of elephants and other wild animals in circuses and declining attendance. In 2022, Ringling announced that it would resume performances without animals. Read more about the HSUS’ concerns about the treatment of wild animals in circuses here.