Atlanta circus-goers reportedly got a clear look at what normally stays backstage at circuses: animal abuse.
The UniverSoul Circus, a single-ring circus based in Atlanta, may have violated a city animal abuse ordinance when it used a sharp tool called a bullhook on a performing elephant on Saturday, according to local animal control officials. The elephant, whose name is Bo, refused to leave the ring, and was subsequently hit with the bullhook as the audience watched, Atlanta's WABE reports. It allegedly took 45 minutes to get the elephant to move backstage.
Animal advocates say that bullhooks, which look like fire pokers with sharp hooks on the ends, are often used to intimidate the elephants - if not outright beat them. Some allege that bullhooks cause acute pain and psychological trauma. Many circuses even use a gray powder called "wonder dust" to cover up wounds made by bullhooks.