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New Photographs Reveal Ringling's Abuse of Baby Elephants
For Immediate Release: March 17, 2010
Contact:Megan Grigorian 757-622-7382
Augusta, Ga. -- Today, PETA sent an urgent letter to Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver calling on him and the City Council to enact a ban on the use of spiked metal bullhooks,which circus trainers use to inflict pain on elephants in order to make the animals perform difficult, confusing, and painful tricks. PETA's request comes in advance of Ringling's impending arrival in Augusta.
Recently released photographs taken inside Ringling's Florida training center by a veteran elephant handler and video footage taken backstage at Ringling both show the routine abuse of elephants during handling and training sessions. Handlers sink bullhooks into areas of an elephant's body where wounds would less likely be visible, such as under the chin or behind the knees or ears. The use of bullhooks causes elephants extreme pain and stress, and PETA wants to make sure that this is the last time that these instruments of abuse are used against elephants in Augusta.
"Bullhooks are medieval tools of the circus trade that people have used since they first put elephants in chains and forced them into submission," says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. "We hope that Mayor Copenhaver and the City Council will send the message that these abusive weapons will not be permitted in Augusta."
For more information and to view photos of trainers as they abuse baby elephants at Ringling, please visit PETA's Web site RinglingBeatsAnimals.com.
PETA's letter to Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver and the City Council follows.
March 17, 2010
The Honorable Deke CopenhaverMayor of AugustaAugusta City Council
Dear Mayor Copenhaver and Councilmembers:
In light of recent documentation showing that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus employees repeatedly abused elephants, including babies, we respectfully request that the City Council take immediate action to protect elephants in Augusta by banning the use of bullhooks (a barbaric, metal-tipped tool that resembles a fireplace poker) and other devices that cause pain and suffering to elephants.
The Washington Post recently profiled a retired Ringling trainer who provided PETA with dozens of never-before-seen photographs that expose the violent training methods that Ringling uses on baby elephants. The photos reveal how still-nursing baby elephants are dragged away from their mothers, bound with ropes, gouged with bullhooks, and slammed to the ground in secret training sessions.
Unfortunately, these horrifying photos depict only the beginning of what will be an unnatural life spent under the constant threat of punishment. As seen in a PETA video that was filmed over a period of several months, elephants are struck repeatedly with bullhooks just before entering the arena (see this Daily News article). An elephant who bolted into the arena during a Ringling pre-show, endangering 100 spectators in Columbia, S.C., last February, may have been trying to escape from the abuse that commonly takes place backstage.
We hope that the City Council will consider the pain, trauma, and injuries that elephants endure and ban the use of bullhooks in Augusta before Ringling's performance on March 18. If legislators do not intervene, these highly intelligent and sensitive animals will continue to face physical and emotional abuse.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter. Sincerely yours,RaeLeann Smith Circus and Government Affairs Specialist
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.