The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will begin a seven-day run at Staples Center Wednesday while a coalition of animal rights groups plans to conduct a protest outside the arena over the circus' use of animals.
"Ringling Bros.' long and well-documented history of beating and neglecting animals is enough to make any kind person speak out in protest," said David W. Perle, the senior media coordinator for PETA.
The animal activist group released a video in 2009 detailing elephant cruelty, which can be seen below:
"Once Los Angelenos learn how baby elephants with Ringling are torn away from their mothers, slammed to the ground, gouged with bullhooks and shocked with electric prods until they learn to obey out of fear of punishment, they'll stay far away from the circus."
Steve Payne, vice president of corporate communications for Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, stated that "once again the animal rights extremists at PETA have used the return of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey to Staples Center as an excuse to disparage the dedicated men and women who spend their lives caring for our animals."
"Despite PETA's allegations, all of the animals on tour with Ringling Bros. and at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation are trained through a system of repetition and reward. Only highly trained and experienced staff work with our elephants, tigers and other animals.
"Rather than take what PETA says at face value, I would encourage all L.A. families to come out and see for themselves how all the animals with The Greatest Show on Earth are thriving in our care."
The circus website has also stated that animals, especially elephants, have a longer life span in captivity. "The average life expectancy for elephants is 45 years old but Ringling Bros. has 10 elephants over the age of 45 including three retired elephants, over the age of 60. We think this is because of our elephants receive excellent veterinary care, nutritious food, regular activity and for those elephants touring with The Greatest Show On Earth, the mental stimulation of performing," the site reads.