Ringling Bros. Circus Brings History of Beating Elephants to Lafayette

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PETA Video and Photographs Reveal Trainers Jabbing, Whipping, and Shocking Endangered Asian Elephants

June 25, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Lafayette, La. – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus starts its four-day stint in Lafayette tomorrow night, and PETA wants the media and parents to know about the circus’s repeated violations of federal animal welfare laws. As revealed in actor Alec Baldwin’s video exposé, Ringling trainers have been caught on camera repeatedly beating elephants with bullhooks—weapons that resemble fireplace pokers—to remind them “who’s boss” and force them to perform tricks. In recent years, multiple arena employees have come forward to report having seen Ringling workers violently beat elephants. Ringling has paid the largest fine in circus history—$270,000—for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Ringling Bros. beats elephants so viciously with bullhooks that handlers have to use a gray powder called Wonder Dust to conceal the wounds from the public,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is advising parents and grandparents that if their children love animals, the last place they should take them is to the circus.”

Elephants used by Ringling endure violence before they ever hit the road: Shocking photos (available here) taken by a veteran elephant handler with Ringling reveal how baby elephants who have been prematurely torn away from their mothers are stretched out, slammed to the ground, gouged with bullhooks, and shocked with electric prods—all to teach them the physically grueling and confusing tricks seen in a circus routine.

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