The Kora Shrine Circus’s self-serving claims about the treatment of the animals forced to perform in its shows (“Return of circuses to Maine revives controversy over treatment of elephants,” April 20) are belied by the evidence.

The outfit supplying the elephants for the circus has a voluminous record of public endangerment and animal abuse.

It has paid numerous penalties for animal welfare violations, including after its head trainer was caught on video attacking elephants with a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker—and an electric prod while they cried out. Another handler with the company was caught on video using the sharp, pointed tip of a bullhook to force an elephant’s head down while swearing at her. In another incident, he was caught hooking an elephant when she attacked another elephant in a circus ring after he completely lost control of the animals. This was only one of many such perilous incidents.

Elephants have repeatedly escaped from the exhibitor, and recently it paid yet another penalty after repeatedly endangering the public through careless elephant handling.

Sadly, such abuse and endangerment is the rule – not the exception – when it comes to elephants forced to perform in traveling acts. This is precisely why the Legislature should enact L.D. 396 and ban these acts. As James M. Hamid, Jr., who coordinates the Kora Shrine Circus, has himself recognized, “As we look into the future, we see all circuses moving to non-animal productions.”

Delcianna J. Winders

Animal Law & Policy Fellow

Harvard Law School

Cambridge, Mass.