Hundreds of animal rights activists gathered outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday to protest what they say is Ringley Bros. Circus' continued mistreatment and abuse of elephants and other animals used in the company's traveling show.
'Kids would run screaming from the big top if they knew how baby elephants are violently forced to perform difficult, confusing, and sometimes painful tricks,' said Delcianna Winders from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who spearheaded the event.
Clad in tiger suits, paper-mache elephant heads and faux-ringleader outfits, the protesters greeted circus patrons with large posters showing what they say is photographic evidence of the inhumane treatment of circus elephants by Ringling Bros. trainers.
"Ringling trainers and handlers routinely beat and gouge elephants with bullhooks - weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp steel tip," said Winders. "Show business is no business for elephants."
PETA spokesman Matt Bruce called on all people -- young and old -- to boycott Ringling Bros. and argued there is no such thing as a humane circus that uses animal performers. Bruce said the baby elephants on display inside Staples Center were “torn from their families, forced to perform under the threat of extreme punishment, gouged with bull hooks, and even tied to the concrete floor of a barn for up to 23 hours a day to break their spirit.”
In addition to PETA, representatives from Animal Defenders International, In Defense of Animals, Last Chance for Animals, and the Animal Protection and Rescue League also helped organize and attended Wednesday's protest.
According to the groups, approximately half of the elephants held by Ringling were captured from the wilds of Asia, where they would roam up to 30 miles a day. In circuses, they are kept in chains, sometimes for days on end. They are dragged around the country in poorly ventilated trailers and boxcars for up to 50 weeks a year in all weather extremes.
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PETA's photos of Ringling Bros staff teaching elephants how to perform tricks:
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