Ringling Bros. circus could leave town as Los Angeles bans elephant bull hooks
By Rick Orlov, Los Angeles Daily News
In a move that could threaten the annual Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show in Los Angeles, the City Council approved a ban Wednesday on the use of bull hooks, bats, ax handles and other devices that animal activists say inflict pain on elephants.
“It is important we send a message that we are as concerned about the treatment of animals as we are with people,” said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, one of the co-authors of the proposal.
Even though the measure does not take effect until Jan. 1, 2017, O’Farrell said its adoption will raise public awareness of the use of control devices for elephants and other large animals.
“I’m disappointed it will not take effect sooner, but there is a reluctance by some to push aggressively on how we treat animals,” O’Farrell said. “We are moving in the right direction.”
During earlier debates on the proposal, Ringling Bros. officials protested the impact of the measure and said it could mean an end to the circus coming to Los Angeles, where it has held performances since 1922.
The company insisted the measure is not needed and that the devices are used to guide the animals but not inhumanely.
However, animal activists said they had concerns the devices hurt the animals.
O’Farrell defended the council action from critics, who say it is an area local leaders should not be involved in.
“People who criticize the council for this are ignoring the fact that we spend 90 percent of our time on the nuts and bolts of city government,” O’Farrell said. “They don’t see the big picture of what we are doing. It is also important for us to make a statement on issues like this.”