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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has slapped the parent company of the “Greatest Show on Earth” with a record penalty for alleged animal rights violations.

Feld Entertainment Inc., which produces the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, has agreed to pay $270,000 for allegedly violating the Animal Welfare Act on several occasions from June 2007 to August 2011, according to a USDA news release.

The USDA can levy fines of up to $10,000 per violation of the act.

“This settlement sends a direct message to the public and to those who exhibit animals that USDA will take all necessary steps to protect animals regulated under the Animal Welfare Act,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the release.

Feld Entertainment officials settled in lieu of a hearing and agreed to implement new training protocols for any circus employees who handle animals, the statement said.

“We look forward to working with the USDA in a cooperative and transparent manner that meets our shared goal of ensuring that our animals are healthy and receive the highest quality care,” Kenneth Feld, the company’s CEO, said in a separate statement.

As part of the settlement, the company admits no wrongdoing or violation of USDA policy.

Via: CNN.com

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