The circus is coming to town. In a few weeks, Ringling Brothers will be arriving in Los Angeles with all its elephants and other caged animals. But this time they may be getting a muted welcome from the city council.
A city panel is set to consider a recommendation from the L.A. Board of Animal Services Commissioners to ban the use of bullhooks – the cruel sharp hooks that are used to subdue the elephants by catching them in their legs and ears and forcing them to perform as required.
Bullhooks were recently banned in Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia, but Ringling managed to get a temporary restraining order to get around the ban. And earlier this year the Cole circus paid the federal government $12,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging abuse of the company’s elephants.
While such a ban wouldn’t prevent trainers from using bullhooks outside of city limits, it would at least draw a line in the sand by saying that “the cruelty stops here.”
Ringling, like all circuses, claims that it treats the animals with the greatest care, and calls the animal acts “a treasured part of the circus experience.”