Just days before the US circus company Ringling Bros arrives for its opening night in her home state of Tennessee, 13-year-old Noah Cyrus – whose well-known family's home is in Nashville – stars in a new PETA US video that reveals how circuses beat elephants and tigers into performing. The Disney star's goal? To get kids to say no whenever friends, family members or teachers suggest taking a trip to the circus.
"We all know how awful bullies are, and circuses bully animals every day", Cyrus explains. "Elephants used in circuses are forced to perform tricks by trainers who beat them and jab them with metal hooks. . . . And as for tigers – they get whipped when they don't do exactly what the trainers want." She concludes, "You have the power to stop this cruelty by refusing to go to circuses and by telling your friends and family why".
As Ringling Bros heads to Nashville, Cyrus is also appealing directly to the city's school board with a letter urging officials to adopt a policy against taking field trips to circuses. "Ringling routinely gives discounted tickets to schools, including Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, in order to increase its profits", she writes. "The only thing that kids learn from a circus performance is that it's acceptable to bully animals for human entertainment. That's a terrible lesson that should never come with the school's endorsement."
The abuse starts early for elephants used by Ringling: PETA US has obtained compelling photos taken inside Ringling's breeding facility that expose how baby elephants are stretched out, slammed to the ground, gouged with bullhooks and shocked with electric prods. In 2011, Ringling Bros paid the largest fine in circus history – $270,000 (around £165,000) – for violations of the US Animal Welfare Act.
Known for her film voiceover work and her appearances alongside big sister Miley on Hannah Montana, Cyrus joins a growing list of celebrities – including Alec Baldwin, Jada Pinkett Smith, Edie Falco, Cloris Leachman, Wilmer Valderrama, Chantelle Houghton and Britain's Got Talent stars Ashleigh and Pudsey – who have teamed up with PETA UK or its affiliate PETA US to speak out against circuses that abuse animals.
For more information on animals used in entertainment, please visit PETA.org.uk.