Letters: In defense of circus elephants


Re “Of elephants and bullhooks,” Editorial, Oct. 22

Every year since 1922, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey has performed for circus fans in Los Angeles. Elephants have always been an integral part of Ringling Bros., providing an up-close way for our audiences to experience these amazing animals in a way they can nowhere else.

Unfortunately, The Times appears to have simply accepted the representations of animal rights groups about how our elephants are trained. The “guide,” referred to by the outdated term “bullhook” in the editorial, is an animal husbandry tool for working with elephants approved by experts, including the American Veterinary Medical Assn.

Our elephants are comfortable with the training methods and tools used at Ringling Bros., and, more important, many of those trained behaviors are vital for optimal husbandry and veterinary care.


Our elephants define Ringling Bros. for the nearly 100,000 people who come to see them at Staples Center each year. The L.A. City Council should not deny people the right to make the decision to attend and also threaten local jobs by passing this unnecessary and unfair ban on circuses in the city.

Stephen Payne

Vienna, Va.

The writer is vice president for corporate communications at Ringling Bros.’ parent company, Feld Entertainment.

Bravo for calling on the City Council to ban cruel bullhooks and elephants in traveling shows.

Ringling Bros. spokesman Stephen Payne, who was quoted in the editorial, apparently would rather go into a cage of hungry tigers than admit that the days of hauling animals around in boxcars and taunting them into submission are long over. But his continued defense of the cruel bullhook is silly.

Calling a heavy baton with a metal hook at the end a guide is akin to calling a gun a noisemaker.

Philip A. Tripp

Largo, Fla.


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