Ringling Bros. Circus spokesperson Stephen Payne would rather go into a cage of hungry tigers than admit the days that it was considered acceptable to haul animals around in boxcars and beat them into submission are long over ("Circus: Pinkett-Smith doesn't know first thing about elephants," March 7). But his continued defense of the cruel bullhook has turned from reactive to downright silly. Calling a heavy baton with a sharp metal tip at the end a "guide" is akin to calling a gun a noisemaker.
Even the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has issued a new policy that will prohibit all AZA-accredited facilities from allowing staff and elephants from being in the same space, with some limited exceptions, by September 2014. This means that elephants in AZA zoos will be protected from handlers (and bullhooks) and vice versa. Yet Ringling clings to using this barbaric device like slave masters once clung to their whips.
If you care about animals or if you just want the world to be a little bit kinder, don't buy a ticket to Ringling Bros. Circus or any other circus still exploiting animals. Visit http://www.RinglingBeatsAnimals.com for more information.
Jennifer O'Connor, Norfolk, Va.
Ms. O'Connor is a staff writer for the PETA Foundation.