(ANIMAL WELFARE) VIRGINIA — Feld Entertainment Inc. and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have agreed upon a settlement of $270,000 following the owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s five years of non-compliance to over two dozen USDA violations. The settlement is the largest penalty assessed under the Animal Welfare Act to date and can hopefully lead to changes within the traveling circus industry. Read on for more on the settlement and Feld’s progressive plans for the future. — Global Animal
"The Greatest Show on Earth" now prepares for budget cuts. Photo credit: thebaynet.com


VIENNA, Va., — The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Feld Entertainment Inc. on Monday said they reached an agreement in which the owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will pay a civil penalty of $270,000 to settle alleged animal welfare violations.

The USDA said the penalty is the largest assessed under the Animal Welfare Act, which sets standards of care for animals in circuses.

The agreement, dated Nov. 23, states that USDA inspectors found evidence of non-compliance with regulations and standards on more than two dozen different visits to Feld facilities between June 2007 and August 2011. Feld denied any violations.

In addition to the penalty, Feld agreed to develop and put in place annual training for all personnel who work with and handle animals, with the first being completed by March 31. The training program will last three years.

“We look forward to working with the USDA in a cooperative and transparent manner,” said Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment, in a statement. “We remain committed to complying with all requirements.”

The privately held company, based in Vienna, Va., said it agreed to the settlement rather than pursue “costly and protracted litigation.”

Feld, which has owned Ringling since 1967, has three circus tours in production and also operates the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.

More CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505245_162-57332375/ringling-parent-reaches-$270k-settlement-with-usda/