The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will begin an eight-day run Friday night at the Honda Center, where People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to protest the handling of elephants.
Buoyed by a Tuesday court ruling that prohibited elephant handlers at the Los Angeles Zoo from using bull hooks and electrical shocks to control the animals, PETA will protest Ringling's use of such methods. Last year, PETA was involved in getting the .
Bull hooks are "used to strike elephants, to jab them, to cause pain to get them to behave as the handler wants them to," said Delcianna Winders of PETA.
Stephen Payne, vice president of corporate communications for Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, said bull hooks are "long accepted elephant husbandry tools used by highly trained professionals. Their use is accepted by the USDA and we're regularly inspected by the USDA" which he said inspected the circus when it was in Los Angeles earlier this month.
Winders argued that state law prevents the use of the bull hooks, a central issue in the lawsuit against the Los Angeles Zoo.
"State law prohibits elephant abuse and the bull hook constitutes elephant abuse," Winders said.
Payne criticized animal rights activists for going too far in some of their protests. When the circus was in Los Angeles, he said protesters called parents "child abusers" for bringing their children to the show. "You can have an opinion, but when you make young children cry and upset their parents with extremely outrageous claims" it's going too far, Payne said.
Winders agreed that sort of protest is over the line.
"PETA never condones actions like that," Winders said. "We organize peaceful protests and instruct everyone participating to be respectful to other people." Unfortunately, some more strident protesters not affiliated with PETA join in the demonstrations, she said.
The 15 circus performances at Staples Center drew more than 100,000 people and the 18 shows at Honda Center are expected to attract 140,000, Payne said.
The show is titled "Dragons," celebrating the Chinese year of the dragon. It combines mystic dragon lore with circus feats of bravery and athleticism and a 22-foot tall, 4,000-pound dragon, with nearly 2,000 scales, all hand-sewn.
The acts include:
- the Shaolin Warriors, a Kung Fu martial arts troupe
- the Riders of the Wind, who ride into the ring aboard thoroughbred horses and perform intricate maneuvers on horseback, including a double-man pyramid that builds to a five-man high pyramid while the horses are galloping at full speed
- the Globe of Steel, where eight members of the Torres family ride on specialized motorcycles inside a 16-foot steel globe
- what is billed as the only big cat act in the United States featuring both tigers and lions together
- the Hair Hang Heroines, who ascend 35 feet in the air from just the strands of their long dark hair, juggling, flipping and spiraling down a silk chiffon, relying on the pure strength of their hair
- the Flying Caceres, a trapeze act including a forward triple somersault and troupe leader George Caceres undertaking a full twisting double bar-to-bar somersault
- animals, including the largest herd of Asian elephants of any North American circus; horses, ponies, mini-donkeys and goats; rescue dogs and domestic cats scaling a kitty low wire, balancing on top of balls, jumping through hula hoops and walking across parallel bars only using their front paws
- the acrobatic troupes the Russian Bar Renegades and Teeterboard Titans, who try to outdo each other as they vault from a 12-foot long, six-inch wide bar
- the dueling motorcycle high wire, where two two daredevil riders race their motorcycles on specially designed high wires suspended 30 feet over the audience, while aerialists perform flips and spins from the motorcycles.
Here is the schedule for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus at the Honda Center:
Tonight -- 7:30 p.m.
Saturday -- 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
Sunday -- 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday -- 1 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
Thursday -- 10:30 a.m., 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 3 -- 1 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 4 -- 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 5 -- 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
-- City News Service
To read more about PETA's pro-elephant efforts, click on this that appeared in Laguna Niguel Patch.
To read more about Ringling Bros.' pro-elephant efforts, click on their Center for Elephant Conservation page.