And then there were two? When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus makes its annual Southern California swing, the venues are in Anaheim, Ontario and Los Angeles. But LA has effectively dropped out effective 2017 with the City Council's ban on bullhooks, goads and prods used to wrangle elephants.
You may recall then-Anaheim City Councilwoman Lorri Galloway explored and then dropped the idea of banning performing circus animals within city limits in 2012. She'd been pushed into consideration of a ban by animal rights activists who pointed to alleged mistreatment of elephants, including the use of bullhooks.
The LA City Council voted unanimously Wednesday for the bullhook ban effective in January 2017 after lobbying from actress Kristen Bell, comedian Sarah Silverman and singer Ke$ha, City News Service reports. (Silverman once retweeted this OC Weekly report: "Elephant on Ground Near Boxcar Brings Rashomon Explanations from Ringling Bros. and PETA.")
Steve Payne, the vice president with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus overlord Feld Entertainment who has appeared often in Weekly stories about animal abuse alleged against his company, confirmed to City News Service that when LA's ban becomes effective, that will effectively end the circus' engagement at the Staples Center.
Payne, who has told the Weekly it is Feld's position that groups like Animal Defenders International and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals don't really want bans on bullhooks but performing animals, has also said that without elephants in the show, there will be no Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
And that, he told City News Service, is "completely unnecessary and unfair" because animal-rights advocates have little understanding of how to handle "an 8,000 pound Asian elephant." Feld officials often point to their wild animal sanctuaries and lack of abuse violations other than in the minds of the activists.
It remains to be seen if a Southern California run without an LA stop will still be viable for Feld.