Edie Falco would like to whack the practice of putting elephants to work in the circus.
In a brand-new video for PETA, the former Sopranos star pleads with New York parents not to take their children to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which comes to Brooklyn's Barclay Center this week.
As the reason, Falco cites the cruel treatment captive elephants allegedly receive at the hands of circus trainers while being trained for performances.
"Mother elephants in the circus cannot help their babies, but we can," says Falco. "Never take your children to the circus. Let's teach our children to respect and show compassion for all beings—both human and animal."
In the clip, Falco outlines in grim detail the kinds of torment baby elephants supposedly endure—from being beaten with whips and sharp metal-tipped bullhooks and shocked with electric prods to having their four legs bound and tied in order to get them to obey. And then, there's the anxiety calves encounter being separated from their mothers.
As the actress describes this mistreatment, the animal rights group shows heartbreaking footage purportedly taken of Ringling trainers beating the animals before they go out onstage.
Falco also goes on to cite court testimony by a former elephant trainer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus that employees would play loud music to cover up the elephants' screaming.
In a separate interview with PETA, the thesp adds: "it was important for me to team up with PETA to speak for the elephants because there's still so much that goes on that I don't know about. What actually goes on behind the scenes in regards to animal abuse. The more I hear, the more I'm shocked."
Consequently Falco, who owns two shelter dogs, decided to lend a hand by appearing in this new video.
A rep for Ringling Bros. was unavailable for comment. But in an "Animal Care FAQ" sheet on its website, the company states that it adheres to "all aspects of animal care and safety" as set by the USDA under the Animal Welfare Act.
"We pride ourselves on the level of care and the healthy environment we provide for all our animal performers," says Ringling Bros, adding that its animals are trained "through a system of reward and repetition" and usually "spend more than half of the day eating, sleeping and socializing with other animals."
UPDATE: Ringling Bros. spokesman Stephen Payne vehemently defended his organization's treatment of its elephants.
"This is another sad attempt by the animal rights extremists with PETA to use a celebrity to recycle old and misleading allegations against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey," Payne told E! News. "Contrary to what Ms. Falco has been told, Ringling Bros. is committed to the welfare of all its animals, particularly the endangered Asian elephants. Asian elephants have been the treasured symbol of The Greatest Show On Earth for 143 years.
The rep also noted that Ringling Bros. is working on saving the species from extinction through its Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation.
(Originally published March 18, 2013, at 8:34 a.m. PT)