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Elephants in the Circus


The majority of elephants used in circuses were captured in the wild when they were babies. In 2000, poachers killed 60 free-roaming female elephants so that their babies could be collected and sold to the entertainment industry. The still-nursing elephants, all under the age of 3, refused to abandon their dead mothers, even attempting to suckle from their corpses.

Elephants are chained in dirty railroad cars for the majority of their lives, often with no heat or air conditioning, left to bake in the sun.

They are purposely kept dehydrated to reduce the mess; elephants need 50 gallons of water a day.

Even when they are not in transit, elephants are usually chained; male elephants, because they are more difficult to control, are permanently kept chained.

As punishment, all four legs are chained, rendering the elephant immobile.

Elephants are kept isolated from contact with other elephants; for these highly social animals, this is very stressful.

Bull hooks, electric prods, pitchforks, and blowtorches are just a few of the standard tools used to 'train' elephants. These methods are so common that Ringling employs someone to apply a powder to conceal the wounds and stop the bleeding of elephants that have been hooked too hard so that the injuries are not visible during the show. This is called "spot work."


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City Won’t Rent Space in Center to Circus, Albuquerque Journal, July 25, 2003
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