Britney Spears Tops Charts, Sparks Scandal

Regan Stephens / December 10, 2008

Britney Spears is no doubt used to the ups and downs that life throws her way. But the 27-year-old pop princess might not be accustomed to dealing with such a high and a low all in the same day.

E! Online reports that Spears’ comeback album, Circus, has entered the Billboard 200 album chart at #1, selling an astonishing 505,000 copies in its first week of release.

Spears is the first artist to have four albums debut with 500,000-plus copies since SoundScan, the current method used to tally record sales, was launched in 1991.

Brit is now fifth overall among female artists with the most No. 1 albums, trailing only Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson.

Alas, some spoilsports always have to come along and rain on the parade.

MTV.com reports that animal-rights group PETA has issued an angry press release, criticizing Spears for using “cruelly trained lions and elephants” in her “Circus” video: “Britney may think her life is a circus, but for the animals who are whipped, chained and beaten to perform under the real big top, the cruelty is very real.”

PETA is calling for Britney to “stop using exotic animals in her videos and concerts once and for all.”

The organization goes on to claim that Have Trunk Will Travel, the company that provided the elephants for the “Circus” video, “have gone so far as to defend the use of cruel electric prods on elephants.”

Company owners Kari and Gari Johnson vehemently deny this claim, and assert that the elephants used in Spears’ video were treated humanely.

“The American Humane Association monitors animal action in film and television. A representative was on the set of the Britney Spears Circus video with our elephants, Tai and Kitty, to ensure their safety and welfare,” Kari Johnson wrote in a reply to PETA’s claims.