Following a press conference PETA held yesterday at which time they released footage of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus employees beating animals, the feds have now said they will investigate the matter. The Daily News reports they will try to find out if the circus has violated the Animal Welfare Act. With crystal clear footage of trainers beating on animals, one even punching an elephant in the face, you would think this investigation would be a short one. In response to all the unwanted attention, a spokesman for the circus sent us along this canned comment packed full of denial:

It is no surprise that PETA would once again release misinformation about Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Ringling Bros. believes that the recent video produced and distributed by PETA is questionable in its context regarding the portrayal of the animal handlers at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Ringling Bros. is a fully licensed traveling exhibitor and from January through June of this year, the alleged time covered in the video, this particular Unit was found to be in compliance with federal, state and local regulations.

The elephants and all the animals at Ringling Bros. are cared for by a team of accredited veterinarians and an animal care staff that ensures the animals’ needs are met and that they are in a safe and secure environment. Ringling Bros. is proud of its efforts to care for and increase the population of the endangered Asian elephant and we encourage people to come see for themselves that the animals are thriving in our care.

Hmm, should we go to the tape again? Meanwhile, Madison Square Garden has yet to publicly respond to PETA's call to stop housing the show. A spokeswoman told the paper that execs will "discuss this kind of matter with [Ringling Bros.] directly and not through the media."