Appeals court upholds dismissal of elephant suit

By NEDRA PICKLER | October 28, 2011 | 11:35 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court is upholding the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by animal rights activists that claims the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus abuses its elephants.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington agreed Friday with a lower court judge that the Animal Protection Institute and a former Ringling elephant trainer did not have the legal standing to sue the circus.

The lawsuit claimed the circus is violating the elephants' protection under the Endangered Species Act with the use of bullhooks for training and prolonged chaining during train rides between shows.

Vienna, Va.-based Feld Entertainment argued the elephants are not hurt and that the instruments are necessary to keep the animals under control and protect public safety. The company runs the circus and has an elephant sanctuary in Florida.