Animal rights activists to stage protest of Ringling Bros. circus outside Staples Center

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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus has returned to Los Angeles, drumming up publicity for its ‘Barnum’s FUNundrum!’ show with a Tuesday predawn parade of Asian elephants from Union Station to the Staples Center. The circus runs at Staples from Wednesday through Sunday.

Animal rights activists, including members of In Defense of Animals and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have planned a demonstration outside Staples on Wednesday evening to coincide with the circus’ opening night. According to In Defense of Animals, the group intends to display a bullhook, a type of hooked pole used by circus staff on elephants, ‘to demonstrate how sharp, heavy and destructive these instruments are.’


PETA and like-minded groups have long opposed Ringling’s use of animals in its shows, arguing that both the training methods used by the circus and the manner in which the animals are housed and transported between shows amount to cruelty. PETA hosts a website,, to showcase undercover video and other information it says is evidence of the circus’ cruelty.

In 2009, a years-long legal battle between animal activists and Ringling Bros. and its parent company, Feld Entertainment, went to trial. The plaintiffs, which included a former Ringling Bros. employee, argued that Ringling’s treatment of elephants violated the Endangered Species Act’s ban on ‘harming,’ ‘harassing’ or ‘wounding’ an endangered animal. The judge ruled in favor of the circus.

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-- Lindsay Barnett