This weekend, Uniting for Justice, a local animal rights group, is holding protests outside of the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus at the Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids. The group—who believes that “all animals, like humans, are feeling beings with a basic right to live their lives as nature intended”—is leafleting people going into the circus about the treatment of animals. The group is distributing flyers produced by the People for Ethical Treatment’s (PETA) ongoing campaign to raise awareness about circuses and to eliminate the use of animals as entertainment. The leaflets that the group is distributing provide a considerable amount of information about the treatment of elephants by the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus. A majority of the elephants used by the circus were captured in the wild but are forced to live in cages, chains, and are occasionally beat by animal “trainers.” They are forced to live in isolation rather than in the family groups in which they live in the wild. Elephants used by the circus are shackled up to 96% of the time and are only able to move 3 feet forward or backward rather than the 30 miles per day that they travel in the wild. Eight of Ringling’s two dozen elephant deaths since 1992 were attributable to osteoarthritis or chronic foot problems—two painful conditions caused by chaining. Documents from the United States Department of Agriculture reveal that Ringling paid a $20,000 fine after a baby elephant died after being forced to perform repeatedly while sick and has been cited for failing to provide veterinary care, minimum space, exercise, and drinking water.