In advance of the Ringling Bros. circus’ stop in Baltimore later this month, Jada Pinkett Smith, a proud native of Charm City, has written to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake urging her to make sure that the city’s absolute ban on the use of any “mechanical, electrical, or manual device that is likely to cause physical injury or suffering” to induce or encourage an animal to perform is enforced, according to Baltimore City Health Code § 10-407(a), to prohibit Ringling from using bullhooks on elephants.
Calling Bull on Hooks
In her letter, Jada explains, “Unlike me and other actors, elephants do not choose to perform. They are often violently coerced by Ringling’s trainers with bullhooks, which are jabbed into the sensitive areas of their bodies.”
Using bullhooks on elephants in Baltimore would be against the law—not that the violation would be a first for Ringling, which was slapped with a record $270,000 fine for abuse of animals in circuses, stemming from dozens of violations of the Animal Welfare Act all the way back to 2007.