Circus elephant trainers wielding bullhooks, spiked tools used to control the animals both in and out of the ring, will no longer be welcome in Los Angeles, thanks to a new ban. The City Council finalized a bullhook ban on Wednesday, essentially banning any circus with performing elephants, since it is nearly impossible to train the animals to perform without them.
Circus owners have already acknowledged this fact.
"We're not going to come to L.A. without our elephants," Stephen Payne, vice president of corporate communications for Feld Entertainment, the parent company for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, told the L.A. Times. "The Asian elephant has been a symbol of Ringling Bros. for 144 years. We cannot bring them without using USDA-approved husbandry tools."
The ban, which has been in progress for some time, will go into effect at the beginning of 2017 -- though not a perfect victory, a victory nonetheless. The delay is meant to give circuses time to revamp their shows -- without using elephants.
"Circuses have been placed on notice that they're welcome to come to town -- but not at the expense of cruelty to elephants," said Carney Anne Nasser, an attorney for PETA. "There's nothing stopping them from presenting the Ringling Bros. circus without elephants."