Animal Law Review


Mark Eichelman

Author Details

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Eichelman is the Chief of the Resource Sustainment and Restoration Branch of the United States Army’s Environmental Law Division.

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In February 2009, the case of American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, et al. v. Feld Entertainment, Inc. was heard in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs, four animal rights organizations and one former elephant handler for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, brought a citizen suit against Feld Entertainment, Inc. (FEI), owner of Ringling Brothers, alleging that the Circus’ use of bullhooks and leg tethers on its endangered Asian elephants constituted illegal “takings” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). FEI argued that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring suit, that the take provisions of the ESA do not apply to captive endangered species, and FEI’s actions did not constitute takings. This Article, written as the case went to trial, analyzes the standing, ESA, and take issues presented in this case and ultimately concludes that the district court should find that the plaintiffs do have standing, the ESA does apply to the captive Asian elephants, and FEI’s actions do constitute takings and should be enjoined.

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