Sticks, Bullhooks, and More Pointed Out to Hundreds of Thousands of Followers
For Immediate Release:
September 5, 2014
Alexis Sadoti 202-483-7382
Bakersfield, Calif. – For the first time ever, a PETA representative attended a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show, in Bakersfield, and live-tweeted it to PETA’s more than 500,000 Twitter followers. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—pointed out what an unsuspecting audience might not have otherwise noticed: the circus’s use of sticks, bullhooks (weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end), Wonder Dust (a gray powder that covers up bloody wounds on elephants’ skin), lame elephants, and more.
PETA’s tweets have been retweeted more than 8,000 times by its members and supporters—including Alec Baldwin, Pamela Anderson, Noah Cyrus, Courtney Stodden, and drummer Mark Sheppard—reaching more than 7 million people with insight into the circus’s cruelty to animals.
“Most people in Ringling’s audience have no idea that they’re seeing handlers using weapons to threaten animals into obeying out of fear of pain and punishment,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA’s live tweets revealed that animals in circuses perform tricks only because they’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t.”
Ringling’s worst abuse of animals occurs out of sight of the audience. Compelling photos taken inside its Florida training compound expose how baby elephants used by Ringling are torn away from their mothers, stretched out, slammed to the ground, gouged with bullhooks, and shocked with electric prods in order to break the baby elephants’ spirits and force them to submit and obey commands. Baldwin narrated a video exposé that includes footage of Ringling handlers beating elephants backstage just moments before performances.
In late 2011, Ringling Bros. paid the largest fine in circus history—$270,000—for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.