Born Free USA Blog
I had the great pleasure to visit the PAWS Sanctuary in San Andreas, California this past weekend and spend the day with the rescued elephants from various circuses and zoos. To see ex-circus elephants walking around, sleeping, playing in the pond, and socializing with other elephants brings me so much joy as well as sadness for all the other elephants not as fortunate.
Hundreds of captive elephants are forced to perform stupid and unnatural tricks each week for an uniformed crowd at circuses all across the country. Animal circuses exist because people continue to purchase tickets to the shows. I always hear circusgoers say that circuses are “good family entertainment” and that the circus loves their animals.
I often think that if the patrons of animal circuses only knew the truth about how the elephants are treated on a daily basis they would choose not to go. Well here is the truth behind the biggest big top:
Born Free USA united with API along with 3 other organizations is suing Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus for their mistreatment of their Asian elephants. The suit alleges that Ringling’s routine use of hitting the elephants with a bullhook and chaining them for hours on end is a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
The evidence we are amassing from the lawsuit prove that Ringling Bros. employees have repeatedly been documented hitting elephants with bullhooks, which are heavy, pointed pokers with a sharp hook at the end. One employee saw "an elephant dripping blood all over the arena floor during the show from being hooked." In addition, Ringling Bros. elephants are kept chained all the time except when performing; in one documented case, elephants were chained for 77 consecutive hours.
This information is central to any parent's decision as to whether or not they should take their kids to an animal circus. And this evidence is only the tip of the iceberg. People who go to animal circuses need to wake up and realize that their money supports the mistreatment of elephants and other wild and exotic animals displayed in the show.
I need visits like the one to PAWS to recharge my fight to end the use of elephants in circuses and other captive situations. You simply have to look into the eyes of an elephant to know that we must do more to end their suffering.