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After Last Year's Narrow Defeat, Commissioners Reconsider Bill to Protect Elephants
For Immediate Release:May 31, 2011
Contact:Shakira Croce 202-483-7382
Atlanta - A day before the Fulton County Board of Commissioners will vote on a proposal that would protects elephants in circuses by banning the use of bullhooks in the county, actor Demi Moore has sent an urgent letter to the commissioners to ask them to support the proposal, which will be introduced on Wednesday.
"Today, elephant sanctuaries and most zoos―including Zoo Atlanta―never use bullhooks or other weapon-like tools to punish elephants," writes Moore. "I hope you will extend that inherent decency to elephants used in circuses. … The elephants deserve our kindness, respect, and protection."
Elephants are beaten with bullhooks—heavy rods with a sharp metal hook and spike on one end—in order to force them to perform difficult tricks that are painful and meaningless to them. A proposed ordinance to ban bullhooks was introduced last year but was defeated by just one vote.
Demi Moore's full letter to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners follows. (A PDF copy of the letter is available upon request.) For more information, please visit PETA.org.
Fulton County Board of Commissioners
141 Pryor St. S.W., 10th Fl. Atlanta, GA 30303
I am writing in support of a proposal that would protect elephants in circuses by banning the use of bullhooks and similar devices in Fulton County.
A bullhook is an ugly device that looks like a fireplace poker—it's a heavy rod with a sharp metal hook and spike on one end that is used by trainers to beat, jab, hook, and yank elephants in order to force them to perform difficult and confusing tricks. Their use also leads to injuries such as puncture wounds and abscesses.
My friends at PETA have gathered irrefutable evidence showing that the use of bullhooks to abuse elephants in circuses is routine. A recent undercover investigation of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus revealed that elephants were struck repeatedly with bullhooks in order to intimidate them and remind them that they need to do as they're told or suffer the painful consequences. And photos from Ringling's training compound illustrate that this abuse starts at a very early age. Baby elephants are torn from their mothers, bound with ropes, slammed to the ground, and gouged with bullhooks during violent training sessions. A trainer with the one of the elephant suppliers for UniverSoul Circus was caught on video viciously attacking elephants with a bullhook and instructing others to sink bullhooks into elephants' flesh and twist them until the animals screamed in pain.
Today, elephant sanctuaries and most zoos―including Zoo Atlanta―never use bullhooks or other weapon-like tools to punish elephants. Corporal punishment has been replaced with positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise. I hope you will extend that inherent decency to elephants used in circuses. I urge you to ban bullhooks. The elephants deserve our kindness, respect, and protection.
Thank you for your time. I can be reached through PETA's Michelle Cho at [contact information redacted].
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.