Awareness and intolerance of animal abuse is gradually becoming more widespread and stricter laws are slowly being adopted. One particularly controversial practice is the use of bullhooks on circus elephants. These are sharp metal-tipped rods which are used to prod, poke and sometimes puncture an elephant's skin. Videos have surfaced that show circus staff violently striking elephants.
Currently there are no federal laws protecting elephants from the cruel use of bullhooks or electric prods, however some counties have passed bullhook bans and Connecticut may become the first state to ban them.
Beginning today and through the rest of the week, Ringling Bros. Circus will be performing in Cleveland, Ohio. Peta is offering a $500 reward to any employee of Quicken Loans Arena who is able to catch on photo or film a circus employee using a bullhook or similar weapon on an elephant. Ohio Revised Code 959.20, which was originally passed to help protect livestock, states "no person shall directly or indirectly or by aiding, abetting, or permitting the doing thereof put, place, fasten, use, or fix upon or to any work animal used or readied for use for a work purpose ... electric or other prods, or similar devices."
With all of this controversy and growing discomfort and criticism over the useage and treatment of wild animals in the circus, it makes me wonder why circuses continue to include them. Maybe it's time for a change... time to retire the old acts and come up with something new, fresh, unique, interesting and even... humane. Perahaps new shows using domestic rescue animals. Even old circuses - like old dogs - can learn new tricks.