EDISON - The animal rights activist group, People of the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), is calling Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus "the cruelest show on earth" after a purported undercover video shot by the group showing alleged abuse to the circus' elephants led the circus to pay a $270,000 fine to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

PETA says the video shows circus employees abusing and beating elephants.

The circus' owner, Feld Entertainment, says that they paid the civil fine to the USDA to "wipe the slate clean" but does not admit any wrongdoing. They claim that the video was old, selectively edited and has been enhanced.

Feld Entertainment says the next time the circus comes to New Jersey that the public is welcome to come see how the elephants are treated.