A lot of descriptors come to mind when I think of PETA: smug, self-righteous, myopic, shrill, sensationalistic, self-important, delusional, holier-than-thou, condescending, self-congratulatory, presumptuous, bratty, careless, tone-deaf, overweening, carping, pompous and so forth. I think these adjectives are suitable more often than not.
But I have to concede the whole circus animal argument to PETA. In fact, here's what comes up when you search YouTube for "Ringling Bros. + bull hooks." If you've got the stomach, you can watch several Ringling Bros. thugs smack elephants in the trunk, face, ears and hindquarters using bull hooks, which are thick rods about two or three feet long with sharp metal hooks on one end.
Look, it's long past time for all circuses to ditch the animals from their shows. If such cruelty is just the price of being entertained, then perhaps we all should reexamine why that is. Maybe you should call up Ringling Bros. at 800-755-1530 and let them know that death-defying acrobatics and sword-swallowers and fire-breathers and exotic dancers and all the other human-based theatrics are entertaining enough and that they can leave the animals out of it.