Jada Pinkett Smith is the latest in a list of celebrities to speak out for Ringling Bros. elephants. Ashley Judd recently called for a boycott of the circus that paid a record $270,000 settlement in November 2011 for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
Now Pinkett Smith, originally from Baltimore, MD, has written to the mayor asking her to protect Ringling elephants while the circus is in town. According to WHNT News, the actress wrote to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake “as a mother and proud Baltimore native,” and reminded the mayor that Baltimore has banned the use of bullhooks on performing animals.
“Unlike me and other actors, elephants do not choose to perform. These endangered elephants will soon be in your jurisdiction. My friends at PETA and I join animal advocates across the state in asking for your leadership in holding Ringling accountable and requiring the circus to comply with Baltimore’s absolute prohibition of the use of devices such as bullhooks,” Pinkett Smith wrote.
In the letter written for PETA, Pinkett Smith also pointed out that many of Ringling’s elephants have painful arthritis and yet are forced to continue performing. “A PETA undercover investigation also documented Ringling handlers as they struck elephants to remind them ‘who’s boss’ moments before walking on stage. In addition, a number of the elephants who are scheduled to perform in Baltimore suffer from painful arthritis yet are forced to perform night after night under the constant fear of punishment,” she wrote.
PETA has also encouraged the USDA to seize the elephants from Ringling Bros. due to the circus’ many violations of the Animal Welfare Act, and provides a contact page to voice your concern to the USDA.