PETA is unwrapping vegan chocolates and uncorking a bottle of champagne today to celebrate a historic day for elephants. After we joined a campaign led by local citizens and rallied our supporters and educated council members, the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban cruel bullhooks after a three-year phase-in period. The City Council chairperson looked away after only a few minutes of watching PETA’s undercover video of elephants who were beaten with bullhooks, and the council members grimaced as they passed around the PETA whistleblower photos of the baby elephant who was tied down and beaten at Ringling’s Florida compound. Actor Lily Tomlin sat front and center to show her support and eloquently answered reporters’ questions after the meeting.
Bullhooks—rods with sharp hooks on the end—are used to beat and jab elephants and can be found in the hands of handlers who travel with circuses, including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Shrine circuses, which have performed annually in L.A.
Make no mistake about it: Bullhooks are weapons. Trainers sink the sharp hooks deep into elephants’ ears, mouths, and other sensitive parts where their skin is paper-thin and swing the rods like baseball bats against elephants’ wrists and ankles, where there’s little tissue to protect their bones from agonizing blows. When the lights come up under the big top, the trainers, who have spent countless hours “breaking” and abusing elephants behind the scenes where audiences can’t see, threaten the frightened animals with bullhooks until they scramble onto tiny stools or perform other tricks to escape the threat of pain.
“This is a smart and humane measure and should be adopted,” wrote the Los Angeles Times in an editorial in support of the ban. “If the circus can’t come to town without bullhooks, then it shouldn’t come.”
PETA is not keeping all of our vegan chocolate to ourselves. We are sending a box of elephant-shaped chocolates to the Los Angeles City Council members to thank them for making a compassionate decision that will inspire cities all over the world. L.A. joins two cities in Florida and two counties in Georgia that have already hung out “not welcome” signs for bullhook-wielding elephant abusers.
What You Can Do
Stay away from animal circuses and tell friends and family why. Show them how elephants are beaten and broken by the entertainment industry, and learn how you can protest circuses when they come to town.