LA City Council To Vote On Banning Performing Elephants - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Tony McEwing

LA City Council To Vote On Banning Performing Elephants

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"The show must go on!" Or maybe not if the show is in LA and it includes performing elephants. Animal rights activists have been working feverishly for years to get the city to ban circus elephant shows. They claim the animals are often abused and forced to perform unnatural tricks; behaviors the pachyderms would never even think of doing on their own in the wild. Today the city council will consider prohibiting those metal bullhooks which activists say the trainers use to goad the often gentle giants. In effect that would put an end to elephant performances in L.A. But at a later date, the city will also consider an outright ban on the use of elephants by traveling shows and other events within the city limits.

There is no question that The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus is the primary target of the proposed law. The self proclaimed "Greatest Show On Earth" has been bringing Asian elephants to the city to entertain hundreds of thousands of circus-goers since 1919. Not being able to feature its famously popular (or infamous if you're an animal welfare activist) elephant show would be a huge blow to the entertainment company's business.

But such a law is far from unprecedented. Currently, six California cities have banned circus elephants, more than any other state. And both the Santa Ana Zoo and the Orange County Fair have stopped offering elephant rides. The proposed ban was authored by city council member Paul Koretz, who bluntly calls treatment of the elephants by their handlers "cruel."

It goes without saying that Ringling Brothers is extremely unhappy. A spokesman for the company says such a law would have the effect of "kicking us out of Los Angeles." The company insists the bullhooks are used "humanely" and are necessary to control the elephants and are a safety measure since the pachyderms often are in close proximity to the people who train and handle them.

It is an emotional and extremely polarizing issue. Even if the city approves the bullhook ban it is not likely to change anyone's mind on the subject. But not having access to the nation's second largest city may very well cause the circus to reconsider whether having the performing pachyderms is worth the loss of revenue.

Tony McEwing co-anchors FOX 11 Morning News at 4:30 am and provides news updates for the Emmy award winning Good Day LA, broadcast weekdays from 7:00 - 10:00 am. He also co-anchors the FOX 11 10 am News and the FOX 11 News at Noon.
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