Christine Stuart photo
Elephant advocates held a press conference Thursday to respond to an advertisement Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus placed in the Hartford Courant the week of May 7th.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have been actively lobbying against HB 7019 which would make it a misdemeanor for trainers to use a bullhook on elephants while they’re performing in the state. The bill would not outlaw elephants.

Rep. Steve Fontana, D-North Haven, said those lobbying against the bill have made some misleading statements.

Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, said she can dispute each of the claims the Ringling Brothers has made.

Here’s her rebuttal to everything Ringling had to say.

She said Ringling has tried to argue that if they were unable to come to the state there would be no one to take their place and their absence would stifle the economic activity the circus brings when it comes to places like Hartford. The argument is misleading because there are three other traveling circuses that don’t use elephants in their shows, she said. The Big Apple Circus stopped using elephants in 2000 and the Cole Bros. Circus stopped using them in 2004.

She said the money families use to take their children to the circus is part of a family’s entertainment budget which they would spend with or without the circus, so there is no net economic gain.

According to Urban, she has the support of at least 45 lawmakers. She said if she’s able to get a little more support Speaker James Amann promised he would let the bill be debated on the floor of the House.

The clock is ticking but Urban remains optimistic she’ll win the support of 30 more lawmakers before the session ends June 6. It narrowly passed both the Environment and Judiciary Committees and is on the House calendar.