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Ringling Challenges Atlanta Bullhook Ban

Written by Michelle Kretzer | February 13, 2012

In June, the Board of Commissioners of Fulton County, Georgia, at the urging of PETA, Demi Moore, local citizens, and other animal advocates, banned the use of bullhooks, fireplace poker–like goads that are used to beat and hook elephants in sensitive areas of their bodies in order to make them obey commands. This meant that if Ringling Bros. wanted to bring the Cruelest Show on Earth to Atlanta, it would have to leave behind the torture devices that the elephants fear.

But with its Atlanta shows scheduled to start this week, Ringling, knowing that it can’t control the elephants without bullhooks and so would have to leave the pachyderms out of the ring, filed a plea for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the ban on Monday afternoon, claiming that there was no specific intergovernmental agreement between Fulton County and the city of Atlanta and that the ban did not apply in the city. To everyone’s surprise, Ringling got its way, and the TRO was granted.

PETA has issued the following statement:

The legislation banning bullhooks was passed because of a serious commitment by the citizens and commissioners of Fulton County to prohibit this sort of animal abuse in their community. The Municipal Code of Atlanta very clearly incorporates all of the Fulton County animal control ordinances—including the bullhook ban. PETA is concerned that the clearly worded prohibition and the wishes of Fulton County citizens have been disregarded without a proper legal basis. Bullhooks, as admitted by Ringling trainers and executives, are used to beat, jab, hook, and yank elephants in order to force them to obey. There are only two uses for a bullhook: to inflict pain and to instill a fear of pain. While a ban on the use of bullhooks is an important step in the right direction, it is now clear that anyone who cares about elephants and other captive exotic animals must make the compassionate decision never to attend a circus that uses animals.

Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts issued a statement saying he believes that there was an implied agreement between Atlanta and Fulton County and that the ban should be upheld.

Compassionate people are making their voices heard, and they will continue until the beatings under the big top stop.

Commenting is closed.
  • Anne Ferland says:

    As a little girl I was freaked out by what I saw at the circus.I vowed that if I ever had children they would never be exposed to animal abuse.My son is 23 and has NEVER been to a circus and he knows why! He agreed that it is not right to chain and beat animals for people’s ”entertainment”

  • LAURA J. says:

    this circus MUST be banned in all states!!!!!! how dare they do this to beautiful gentle animals of all kinds, esp. elephants, tiger,etc.I’m so ashamed I actually went to this circus Ringling with my daughter in 1978, never again, I will forever protest any circus using & abusing animals as long as I live. this video is very upsetting, I’m sick to my stomach.

  • Eliana says:


  • Anika says:

    Its sickening!!!! I’m suprised the ringling brothers weren’t thrown into jail,beaten by bull hooks and banned! I’m a 10 year old saying this and yet people wiser and older than me still work for ringling!

  • Therese says:

    I hope you never think about bringing your barbaric circus to Australia!! Ringling Brothers – you are disgraceful and heartless. These types of circuses have no place in the 21st Century. Shame on you & shame on the authorities who allow this to happen!!!

  • Matt Collins says:

    Pathetic. UPHOLD THE BAN!!!!

  • Salli says:

    I would like for everyone who thinks the Ringling Brothers is ok to see these videos. These people should be put in jail.

  • Lauren says:


  • Tammy says:

    My family is NOT permitted to go to ANY circus, period! It’s just wrong. I have not been since I was a child and my child has never been to a circus.

  • Donna Dixon says:

    I stopped going to circuses that use/abuse animals over 20 years ago and have written to Ringling… to no avail. They don’t seem to get the message that abuse will not be tolerated.

  • stephen kemp says:

    leave the elephants in peace they deserve freedom and a good happy life as for all animals

  • Meg B says:

    This video enrages me! How can humans treat these animals like this? They are WILD animals they belong in the WILD not perform some mindless act for the stupid human beings that actually pay money to see this kind of stuff. I wish I could save them from this depressing and tortured life..makes me so sad 🙁

  • Betina Andersen says:

    Please stop this cruelty!! These are the kind of actions that make me so ashamed to be part of the human race!

  • JILL says:

    Shameful. Please make sure these instruments are never again permitted anywhere. Such beautiful elephants. My heart goes out to them

  • Jenna says:

    Disappointed this circus is still running. Just goes to show how little some humans care.