PETA Statement: Bullhook Reportedly Inserted Into Elephant’s Mouth at UniverSoul Circus

For Immediate Release:
February 14, 2015

PETA is urging Atlantans to stay far away from UniverSoul Circus and any other circus that uses elephants after receiving reports that during this afternoon’s UniverSoul Circus performance at Turner Field, a handler inserted a bullhook—a sharp metal weapon that resembles a fireplace poker—into an elephant’s mouth onstage. Elephants’ mouths are extremely sensitive and are often targeted by bullhook-wielding handlers. According to eyewitness reports, the elephants used by the circus appeared fearful to leave the stage and were ultimately forced off with the use of a bullhook.

Update: PETA has just learned that local law-enforcement officials have cited both UniverSoul Circus and Larry Carden, the elephant exhibitor performing with the circus, for violating Atlanta’s cruelty-to-animals law—specifically, the provision that prohibits “abusive behavior towards an elephant.” The move comes after a whistleblower reported to PETA today that a handler with the circus forced an apparently fearful elephant to leave the stage by inserting a bullhook—a sharp metal weapon that resembles a fireplace poker—into the animal’s mouth. Because abuse with bullhooks is the norm when elephants are forced to perform, PETA urges everyone to stay far away from any circus that uses elephants.

— Delcianna Winders, Deputy General Counsel, Captive Animal Law Enforcement, PETA Foundation

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“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind