It was a pleasure to read that the Los Angeles City Council will likely ban elephants from performing in the city. Governments in dozens of countries have banned exotic animals from performing in circuses, including most recently the Netherlands and even Greece, with all its economic problems.
In Australia, we have banned them in all but two states. Soon, those states will follow the rest of the country’s lead.
Elephants performing idle tricks for humans’ amusement is a blight on our society and should be banned everywhere. How can we foster respect and empathy for animals if we degrade them?
Elephants are highly social animals who lavish affection and attention on their family members. In the wild, each day is filled with socializing, exploring and playing. Each milestone, such as new births and the rainy season, is cause for celebration. Their mourning ritual over the death of a family member rivals any we humans have. Elephants’ level of self-awareness continues to amaze researchers worldwide.
In contrast, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus takes baby elephants away from their mothers and breaks them until they give up all hope. They spend most of their lives in boxcars and chains, fearing the bullhook.
The Los Angeles City Council is to be commended for giving this issue the serious attention it deserves, and it can make a world of difference for elephants by banning them from performing in the city.
O’Connor is a staff writer with the PETA Foundation.