Have traveling circus elephants made their last stop in the City of Angels? The Los Angeles Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee this week recommended that the City Council vote to ban circus elephants and/or the bullhooks and other tools that trainers use to control the animals. The council is expected to vote on the proposed ban early next year, the New York Times reports.

The ban would block the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from bringing its elephants into the city limits, which it has been doing since 1919. The move comes after several years of protests by Animal Defenders International, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and other organizations that say the methods used to train circus elephants are cruel.

"The treatment of elephants in traveling circuses is one of the crueler practices, and it's time for us to stand up for them," Paul Koretz, the city council member who heads the Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee and sponsored the bill to ban the pachyderms, told the Times. Six cities in southern California already have bans on circus elephants in place. Koretz predicted that if Los Angeles implemented its own ban, more cities throughout the state and country would follow.

In a recent blog post, PETA praised the pending vote. "If the council passes the measure, Ringling Bros. and other circuses that abuse elephants will no longer be allowed to haul them to Los Angeles in cramped, stifling boxcars or trucks in which they're kept chained for up to 100 hours at a time. These circuses will no longer be allowed to drag elephants into an L.A. arena and force them to stand on their heads or balance on balls, with the ever-present bullhook looming threateningly nearby."

The Ringling Bros. circus has long maintained that its methods are humane. Feld Entertainment, the circus's parent company, says the city council did not consult any experts and claims the ban could cause "hundreds, if not thousands" of local people to lose their jobs.

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