Back in October 2013, Los Angeles became the first major city in the U.S. to begin drafting a total ban on the use of cruel bullhooks in circuses. And now, it has been confirmed that from 2017 onwards, elephant trainers will definitely no longer be able to use bullhooks “and other tools designed to inflict pain” while in the city.

Representatives of L.A.’s City Council ruled to approve the move last Wednesday – but unsurprisingly, circus owners are already starting to kick up a fuss. Leading the charge among the complainers was Stephen Payne, vice president of corporate communications for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.


“We’re not going to come to L.A. without our elephants. The Asian elephant has been a symbol of Ringling Bros. for 144 years. We cannot bring without using USDA-approved husbandry tools,” said Payne.

If by “USDA-approved husbandry tools,” Payne is referring to the tools that his company has used to frighten, subdue, and maim their captive elephants for the entire duration of its history, it can only be assumed that the USDA seriously needs to re-examine its approval criteria.

PETA attorney Carney Anne Nasser has responded to the news of this welcome ban by saying, “Circuses have been placed on notice that they’re welcome to come to town – but not at the expense of cruelty to elephants. There’s nothing stopping them from presenting the Ringling Bros. circus without elephants.”

While many animal rights groups have expressed their disappointment that the ban will not come into immediate effect, the City Council has ruled that the three-year delay is needed to give circuses time to change their elephant training methods or remove the animals from their shows completely.


Perhaps this ban will demonstrate to Ringling Bros. that when it comes to a really fun circus, the animal-free ones win every time.

Image Source: angela n./Flickr