Written by Michelle Kretzer
Circuses are running into more and more places where they can't force elephants and other exotic animals to perform, as localities ban the use of bullhooks—sharp metal weapons that resemble fireplace pokers—and other cruel devices. Trainers use them to beat, hook, and gouge elephants on the most sensitive parts of their bodies, like behind their ears and knees. In Florida alone, Pompano Beach, Clearwater, Hollywood, and Margate have already enacted bans, and now we can add Hallandale Beach to the list of dozens of compassionate communities across the country that are saying, "Not on our watch."
Thanks in part to the help and hard work of
local group Animal
Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), the
City Commission of Hallandale Beach, just north of Miami, voted to ban circuses
and rodeos from using bullhooks, whips, and other cruel devices to
beat animals. Since threatening elephants, tigers, and other animals by showing
them a bullhook or whip is the only way that circus trainers can make them
stand on their heads, jump through rings of fire, or perform other frightening,
confusing tricks, circuses
will have to leave exotic animals out of their acts if they want to entertain
in Hallandale Beach.
PETA is sending the Hallandale Beach city commissioners a box of vegan chocolates to thank them for being elefriends.
Los Angeles is also considering a bullhook ban. Let the City Council know that you (and elephants) would love to see Los Angeles become known as the City of Angels to Animals by passing the ban.
Written by Jeff Mackey
Following multiple investigation requests from PETA, the Chicago Inspector General (IG) launched a probe of the city's regulation of circuses and other animal exhibitors. Now, the IG has released its report, with recommended changes to licensing and permitting procedures.
Behind-the-Scenes Scandal at Ringling
Public records about Chicago's inspections of the notoriously inhumane Ringling Bros. circus in November 2010 documented numerous untreated medical conditions that appeared to clearly violate state and local animal protection laws. So in December 2010, PETA filed an investigation request asking that the IG determine why, in the face of compelling evidence of cruelty and neglect, the City of Chicago did nothing to provide relief to suffering animals or to hold Ringling responsible for its actions.
As detailed in PETA's request, several issues were noted during the 2010 inspection:
Despite this unequivocal information, no action was taken, and these elephants were forced to perform 20 times during Ringling's Chicago stand. In November 2011, PETA followed up with the IG's office to renew its request for an investigation.
Now, just before Ringling's 2012 Chicago appearances, scheduled for November 4 to 25, the IG has issued a report calling for changes in the way that the city handles circuses and other animal exhibitors, recommending the following:
The report also notes that under a new ordinance, the executive director of ACC has "additional discretion to work with a permittee to correct any violations or to issue fines or impose summary closure upon a finding of imminent hazard to the health of the animals."
PETA will be following up with the city, particularly in light of the fact that Nichole, Karen, and Sara are all scheduled to appear in Chicago again over the next few weeks and a recent independent expert's inspection report reveals that these animals' health still remains of significant concern.
What You Can Do
Please take a minute of your time to help spare Karen, Nicole, and Sara from additional suffering by politely urging Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack to stop folding to pressure from Ringling and to immediately seize these ailing elephants before it's too late—foot disorders and arthritis are the leading reasons for euthanasia in captive elephants.
PETA has fired off a letter urging Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin, to ban elephant exhibitions following news reports that the museum brought in four elephants—one of whom had recently been exposed to a tuberculosis-positive elephant. The elephants were supplied by the notorious Carson & Barnes Circus, which did not have permits to take the animals into the state. Wisconsin requires import permits for exotic animals and prohibits transporting animals who may carry communicable diseases as well as all public contact with such animals.
Not only do many elephants carry the human strain of tuberculosis, contrary to Carson & Barnes' misinformation and as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they also can easily transmit it to humans, even without direct contact. For example, tuberculosis carried by an elephant was recently linked to an outbreak in Tennessee among nine humans, some of whom had had no direct contact with the elephant. Elephants used in traveling exhibits like those going to Circus World are particularly at risk—the stress of traveling and performing make them more susceptible to the disease and more likely to develop a severe infection.
In addition to its total disregard for public health and state law, Carson & Barnes has a long history of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). In late September, it paid a penalty for 10 violations of the AWA, including endangering the public and elephants. Carson & Barnes' "animal care" director was caught on video viciously attacking elephants with a bullhook, shocking elephants with an electric prod, and instructing trainers to embed sharp metal hooks into the elephants' flesh until the animals screamed in pain.
Last year, Circus World hosted the Liebel Family Circus, which was recently charged with almost three dozen violations of the AWA.
The charges against Liebel include keeping an elephant named Nosey—who appeared at Circus World—chained so tightly by two legs that she could not lie down and could barely move, repeatedly denying her adequate veterinary care, potentially exposing her to serious infections by allowing manure to accumulate in the overgrown soles of her feet (foot ailments are the leading reason why captive elephants are euthanized), and repeatedly allowing unsupervised public contact with Nosey, who once hit a Liebel employee on the back of the head so severely that he required hospital treatment for the injury.
Abuse is the rule, not the exception, when it comes to forcing elephants to perform tricks, and elephants pose an inherent threat to human safety and health—from both disease and dangerous outbursts because of prolonged frustration. That's why more and more cities are prohibiting or limiting circuses with exotic-animal acts, including nearby Dane County (which includes Madison), where an ordinance prohibiting elephant exhibits was recently passed.
Circus World needs to get with the times and consign human endangerment and cruelty to animals to the scrapheap of history. Because our pleas to Circus World Executive Director Steve Freese have been ignored, please join PETA in calling on Ellen Langill, president of the Wisconsin Historical Society Board of Curators—which owns Circus World—to stop exhibiting elephants.
The following was originally posted on September 25, 2012.
of a change in the council's agenda, a
vote was not held on the 25th. Please keep watching The
PETA Files for further details, and visit RinglingBeatsAnimals.com to
learn about more ways to put a stop to circus cruelty.
This is exciting: Today, the City of
Anaheim will consider banning
the use of exotic animals in traveling exhibitions—including circuses! Ringling Bros. includes Anaheim in its annual California tour. Imposing
an exotic-animal ban would reinforce PETA's intensive efforts to stop Ringling from abusing
elephants and other animals.
Anaheim is where one of Ringling's elephants, Sarah, collapsed in 2011 after Ringling forced her to continue performing despite a chronic
infection. If passed, the ban will ensure that she—and all the elephants used
by Ringling—will never again be subjected to further cruelty in that city.
Currently, Anaheim has a ban on keeping exotic animals, but the
proposed ordinance, introduced by Council Member Lorri Galloway, would remove
an existing exemption for circuses and other traveling acts. Anaheim would join
Ontario, Canada, in the growing list of
North American jurisdictions that are currently considering bans on the use of bullhooks, elephants, or all exotic animals in circuses.
If you live in the Anaheim area, please join the concerned citizens who will be meeting at City Hall to speak in favor of the ban during the City Council's 5 p.m. meeting.
Wherever you reside, learn how you can help
PETA put an end to Ringling's cruelty.
At Atlanta's City Hall, B-52s singer Fred Schneider, surrounded by City Councilmember Felicia Moore and other PETA supporters, called on the City Council to pass a total ban on bullhooks. "How can we do this to elephants?" he asked. "I can't imagine doing this to our cats, dogs, or other pets we love." Moore commented that "Atlanta is better than this" and added that she and fellow Councilmember Natalyn Mosby Archibong will continue to push for the full ban.
Photo: Anna Ware
The following was originally published on June 26th.
PETA has sent an urgent letter to the Atlanta City Council exhorting it to pass an ordinance proposed by Councilmembers Felicia Moore and Natalyn Archibong that would ban all bullhook use in the city. The new measure would strengthen recently passed legislation that is unenforceable and will do nothing to protect elephants used in circuses from abuse.
The ordinance passed on June 18 bans the use of bullhooks only when a witness comes forward to attest that they were used to "punish" or "discipline" an elephant and that the specific incident resulted in the elephant's skin being observably broken, scarred, or otherwise damaged—an almost impossible task given that handlers commonly strike elephants in places that hide the wounds, such as behind the ears or under the chin.
Nor do all bullhook beatings break the skin, even when they cause serious injuries—and when they do cause bleeding, circuses apply a gray powder called "Wonder Dust" to cover up any wounds since it blends in with elephants' skin.
Along with the letter, PETA sent videotapes showing several incidents in which elephants were beaten with bullhooks in California, which has a law that's virtually identical to Atlanta's. In none of these instances was the perpetrator prosecuted.
California's failed elephant-protection law proves that as long as circus elephant handlers have bullhooks, they're going to beat elephants with them. Please join PETA in making it clear to the Atlanta City Council that a total ban on bullhooks is the only way to stop circuses from beating elephants. (Please keep all correspondence polite.)
Written by PETA
The Atlanta City Council voted to prevent the use of bullhooks but only when it
can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they were used in a specific
instance to "discipline" an elephant and that the elephant's skin was
broken, scarred, or otherwise damaged as a result. This is a step backward from
Fulton County's outright ban on the use of bullhooks. This ordinance will not
protect elephants because enforcing it would require that someone not only be there to witness the
abuse, but be close enough to see the actual damage to the elephant's skin. The bullhook would have to break the skin, something a blunt object which causes pain does not always do. Obviously
Ringling hides its abusive "training and handling" from public view, hooks
elephants in places people can't typically see such as under the chin and
behind the ears, and uses gray Wonder Dust to stop bleeding quickly and conceal
wounds. And, broken bones and forming bruises can't always be seen
with the naked eye. Only a ban on the use of bullhooks can protect elephants from bullhook abuse.
Councilmembers Felicia Moore and Natalyn Archibong introduced a total bullhook ban
at the end of Monday's City Council meeting. It will go to the Public Safety
Committee for review before the council can vote on it.
may recall that last summer Fulton County, Georgia, became the largest municipality in the U.S. to ban the use of bullhooks—rods with a
sharp metal hook and point on the end that are used to strike, jab, hook, prod,
and beat elephants on the most sensitive parts of their bodies.
this February, because Ringling Bros. can't force
elephants to perform unnatural and often painful circus tricks without this
torture device and because the circus refuses to get with the times and join
the numerous circuses that don't use elephants, Ringling sued Fulton County to challenge
enforcement of the ban. That lawsuit is ongoing, but in the meantime, Ringling
is pressuring the city of Atlanta to make sure that the bullhook ban is not
enforceable within city limits.
Monday, the Atlanta City Council faces a very important decision—it will decide
whether or not to allow the use of cruel bullhooks in the city. While some
councilmembers support a ban, others are on the fence and are facing tremendous
pressure from the mayor and companies such as Ringling Bros. that make millions
off elephant abuse. But the councilmembers are subject to public pressure as
well, and every e-mail that they receive adds to that pressure.
councilmembers have made it clear that being contacted by the public would be
the most influential factor in persuading them to ban bullhooks. And that's where we need your help for the
elephants! Please take a moment to urge the City Council to do the right thing and put an end to elephant abuse
in the city of Atlanta. Please be sure to note any ties that you have to Atlanta.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.