Animal rights groups such as PETA and celebrities — including
actress Kristen Bell, comedian Sarah Silverman and singer Ke$ha — have campaigned against the use of the prods that they say
amounts to torture, Los Angeles City News Service said.
The ban, passed unanimously by the city council on Wednesday,
takes effect in January 2017, a delay meant to give circuses
time to change how they handle elephants or remove them from the
shows, which draw audiences of 100,000.
Stephen Payne, spokesman for circus operator Ringling Bros. and
Barnum & Bailey, said the law was "completely unnecessary" and
would force the cancellation of Los Angeles circus events,
although City News Service quoted him as saying that the circus
may move to a venue outside the city limits.
"Our elephants are the No. 1 reason people come to see the
Greatest Show on Earth," he was quoted him as saying. "We're not
just going to drop them off when we play Los Angeles."
Council members said that zoos, including the main one in Los
Angeles, have stopped using the spike-tipped bullhooks amid
sweeping evidence that they cause physical and psychological
harm to elephants and other exotic animals.
Using bullhooks is "inhumane and unhealthy", said city
councillor Paul Koretz, who said he voted in favor of the ban
after a video was shown to the council that highlighted elephant
training tactics and exercises he said were "cruel".
"The circus is welcome in Los Angeles, just without the
bullhooks," Koretz said. "We're hoping that they follow the
model of other circuses that don't use exotic animals."
(Reporting by Dana Feldman in Los Angeles; Writing by Eric M.
Johnson; editing by Louise Ireland)
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