Los Angeles may not be able to see the annual Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show after 2016. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council approved a ban, going into effect January 1, 2017, that prohibits the circus from using bull hooks, bats, ax handles and other devices to guide its elephants. Animal activists had protested the use of the various devices.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who co-authored the proposal, said:
It is important we send a message that we are as concerned about the treatment of animals as we are with people … I’m disappointed it will not take effect sooner, but there is a reluctance by some to push aggressively on how we treat animals.
Ringling Bros. officials had previously protested the proposed ban, warning it could mean the end of performances in Los Angeles that have been held annually since 1922. They insisted that the devices are not inhumane. O’Farrell defended the council action from critics, who say it is an area local leaders should not be involved in.
O’Farrell defended the council’s action, saying, “People who criticize the council for this are ignoring the fact that we spend 90 percent of our time on the nuts and bolts of city government. They don’t see the big picture of what we are doing. It is also important for us to make a statement on issues like this.”