Last week, the City of Los Angeles took steps towards banning elephants at traveling circuses, including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
According to the Daily News of Los Angeles, the city’s Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee recommended that the City Council vote on the issue, which will involve voting on a proposal to ban elephants or billhooks — the sharp instruments that are used to “train” and control elephants — or to go all out and ban both.
Bullhooks are supposedly used as nothing more than a guide, but their real purpose is to inflict pain to establish dominance and force elephants to perform tricks they would never otherwise perform through fear. These instruments have come under fire in a number of places for the amount of damage they can do to the surprisingly sensitive areas of an elephant’s body.
“Frankly, it made my blood boil,” said Councilman Paul Koretz, who introduced the proposal, after hearing expert testimony and watching footage of elephants being mistreated. “The video was shot undercover and it showed traveling circus elephants being struck viciously with a bullhook, over and over again, for no apparent reason.”
Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) acknowledged that the city’s goal should be to ban all wild animals from the circus, but it wanted to make elephants a priority and animal advocates are celebrating the decision.
“We hope that this move will completely eliminate elephants from circuses that visit Los Angeles. It is not just the physical abuse these animals endure but the confinement and deprivation of being forced to live in city center car lots when the circus comes to town. It is completely inappropriate to keep elephants with traveling circuses and that was acknowledged at yesterday’s meeting,” said Tim Phillips, Vice President of Animal Defenders International.
Feld Entertainment, on the other hand, is balking at the news. The company claims that the it wasn’t allowed to provide input, that LAAS provided biased information and that the move would cost “hundreds, if not thousands, of local jobs.”
Feld Entertainment is clearly less concerned with the welfare of the animals in its care than it is with the profits it can reap from the continued exploitation and abuse of those without a voice. Hopefully, the momentum to protect elephants from ongoing abuse will continue and Los Angeles will be next on the list of city’s that have bans or regulations on wild and exotic animals.
Photo credit: wolfsavard