“You’re scaring my child,” said one mother as she passed activists with posters showing abused elephants. She attempted to cover her son’s eyes and ears to protect him from the images and chants, but she only had two hands.
Another mother gave the finger to an activist who showed her an actual bullhook, the weapon used to beat elephants into submission or, as Ringling describes it, an “accepted elephant husbandry tool.”
One ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman with seven young children appeared stunned when an activist said, “The Torah prohibits Jews from causing Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim (unnecessary physical or psychological pain to any living creature). With a guilty look, she said she “didn’t know” when told that baby elephants are “kidnapped from their mothers” in the circus.
Such were the interactions between protesters and customers during opening night of Ringling Bros. Circus in New York City. Jane Velez-Mitchell of JaneUnchained was there to report.
If one state lawmaker has his way, elephant performances will banned in New York. In January, Senator Brad Hoylman introduced a bill to prohibit the use of whips, bullhooks and chains on elephants. Without these weapons, Ringling cannot control the elephants, making it impossible to force them to perform.
New York would not be the first place to ban circus elephants. In October 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported that “the City Council asked the city attorney’s office to prepare an ordinance outlawing the use of the bullhook. Baseball bats, ax handles, pitchforks and other implements used on the pachyderms would also be banned.” The ordinance takes effect in 2017. In December 2014, lawmakers in Oakland, California, voted to ban the use of bull hooks, and that law also takes effect in 2017. Elephant acts in circuses are already banned in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Slovenia, Cyprus, Greece, Paraguay, Columbia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Elephants are among the most intelligent and social animals on the planet. In the wild, they live in herds, raise their children and travel long distances. In captivity, they are deprived of the chance to do anything that comes naturally to them; they live in constant fear; and are stored in cramped boxcars for days at a time while traveling between cities. They are also beaten into submission, as has been documented many times during undercover investigations conducted by animal rights organizations.
Please visit One Green Planet to learn five ways you can help end the use of animals in circuses.