Elephants have been iconic symbols of circuses since the traveling shows were conceived, but if Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey want to pass through Los Angeles, they may have to cross the majestic animals off their list of attractions.
The city’s Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee on Tuesday recommended a full vote by the City Council on a measure that would prohibit traveling circus elephants and the potentially harmful tools (called ‘bullhooks’) used to control them. The council will decide to fully ban pachyderms, or bullhooks, or both.
The recommendation follows a decision from a state judge made earlier this year that banned the use of bullhooks at the Los Angeles Zoo and a federal bill, proposed a year ago, that would have severely limited the transportation of lions, tigers and elephants around the county.
Is circuses’ treatment of performing elephants and other animals abusive and cruel? Is there a way to protect circus elephants without completely banning them from LA?
Paul Koretz, Los Angeles City Councilman representing District 5 in West Los Angeles and head of the Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee
Stephen Payne, vice president of corporate communications for Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus