For Immediate Release: May 5, 2014

(Sarasota, FL) – This morning, the U.S Postal Service will unveil a new series of stamps, “Vintage Circus Posters,” during a ceremony at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. The stamps reproduce eight posters featuring clowns, trapeze artists, stuntmen, and elephants and tigers. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, America’s largest circus, will participate in the first-day-of-issue ceremony.

The new stamps are unfortunately a celebration of the circus in America, when what is needed is an examination of how the circus was, and continues to be, horrible for animals. In response, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) has created alternative designs using images from the early 20th century circus. The three designs have been posted on ARFF’s facebook page:

How we remember the early American circus is important. Thankfully, the exploitation of people of color and those with physical abnormalities in circus sideshows has stopped. But elephants and other animals continue to suffer in traveling circuses.

“The designs are our attempt at a more honest telling of the history of the circus in America,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “It is important not to forget the cruelty of the early American circus, because, sadly, not much has changed.”

One of ARFF’s designs features “Tusko,” an elephant who was captured in Thailand in the 1890s and shipped to New York. Not surprisingly, following years of mistreatment and being sold from circus to circus, Tusko developed a reputation for aggressiveness. Tusko was cruelly restrained at all times by an elaborate system of chains.

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