The Los Angeles City Council could soon approve a proposal that would make the use of elephants in such circuses as Barnum & Bailey and Ringling Bros. a thing of the past in the city, if the Council adopts the November 20 recommendation of its Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee.
The proposed measure is contained in a letter dated November 1, 2012, to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, by L.A. Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette, providing seven options to regulate the use of elephants in circuses and other traveling circus shows within the City.
The letter states that the Board of Animal Services Commissioners recommended by a unanimous vote of 3-0 that the Mayor and Council consider various options relative to the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling shows and exhibitions.
On November 20, after hearing testimony from well-credentialed animal advocates and experts on the inhumane treatment of circus animals, including Catherine Doyle, the Director of Science, Research and Advocacy for the Performing Animal Welfare Society, and viewing an undercover video, the Council’s Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee, chaired by Councilman Paul Koretz, recommended Options 1, 3, and 4 should be considered for adoption by the full Council.
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Option 1: The City consider adopting an ordinance prohibiting the use of elephants in traveling shows and exhibitions.
Option 3: The city consider adopting an ordinance prohibiting in any public performance-related context the use of bullhooks (aka “guides” or “ankuses”), baseball bats, axe handles, pitchforks and other implements and tools designed to inflict pain for the purpose of training and controlling the behavior of elephants.
Option 4: The City consider adopting an ordinance prohibiting the use of elephants in traveling shows and exhibitions (including circuses) and, in any public performance-related context, the use of bullhooks/guides, baseball bats, axe handles, pitchforks and other implements and tools designed to inflict pain for the purpose of training and controlling the behavior of elephants.
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Councilman Paul Koretz stated, "Frankly, it made my blood boil. 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."
Thomas Albert, Vice President, Government Relations, for Feld Entertainment submitted a letter dated November 12, stating that his company is “…strongly opposed to the idea of banning elephants and/or other species from circuses and other traveling exhibition, as that would directly…prohibit Ringling Bros. from continuing to perform in Los Angeles.”
He also stated that the ban is unnecessary and will “…do nothing to enhance or increase animal welfare or protection, while negatively impacting hundreds of jobs at Staples Center and elsewhere.”
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, “Councilman Dennis Zine called for mediation between the city and the circus industry, which was included in Monday's vote. What he didn't know, a spokesman said, was that he had helped approve a full council vote.
"What he intended to do was move the item forward - not to a full vote of the council, but to a working group," said Jimmy Blackman, his chief of staff. "If the item came to the City Council, we would vote against it.
He added, “…we could lose all those (circus) shows ... We don't want to lose thousands of jobs." (Dennis Zine is a candidate in the 2013 election for Controller the City of Los Angeles.)
To learn more about the intolerable cramped confinement, unacceptable travel conditions, and inhumane treatment circus elephants endure including a video of an undercover investigation of Ringling Bros. by PETA, click here.