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Mar 12, 2006

Who is Scott Riddle?
And what is his psuedo "Sanctuary" all about????

Riddle Whistleblower Letter - for reference
 October 23, 2005 7:19 PM
Ann Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave. SW., Rm. 200A
Washington, D.C. 20250

Dear Ms. Veneman,

I interned for Riddle’s Elephant Sanctuary from November 29th - December 26th 2003, and urge you to not allow the elephants from the Hawthorn’s corporation to Riddle’s “sanctuary.” Riddle’s is a sanctuary in name only; the elephants are used for breeding, which is potentially fatal for the female elephants. “Mary” an Asian elephant died last year at Riddle’s while her fetus was being aborted for it was too big too be delivered.
With exception of the babies, all elephants are chained when in the barn. During December, the elephants were chained from 4:30 pm - 8:30 am
. Two of their ankles were shackled and attached to their barns with metal chains.
I witnessed the handlers use bull hooks daily. Every handler carried a bullhook, even those who had been working for only six months. The bullhooks were sharpened and used on the elephant’s ears and heads.
When cleaning out a barn, Batir (nicknamed Skeeter) touched my stomach with his trunk out of curiosity, one of the other interns, Robert hit him on the head with the wooden end of a bullhook. Robert smiled after hitting Skeeter, and seemed to enjoy using the bullhooks on elephants.
One African elephant; “Lil Felix” (nicknamed Felix) had her legs hobbled when being walked from the barn to her pen in the morning, and from the pen to her barn at night. Her right front ankle was chained to her left back, and her left front ankle was chained to the right back ankle. When a cameraman came to film the Discovery Channel show “Growing up elephant,” Felix was not hobbled. When I asked Mark Easley, one of the handlers why she was hobbled, he said that she is badly behaved, has a bad attitude and would escape.
While Riddle’s has hundreds of acres, the elephants share small pens and do not run free. Two African bull elephants; Artie and Solomon shared a small pen close to the barn called the “bull pen.” I watched as Artie fought with Solomon, stepped on him, injuring Solomon’s ear tusk so severely it required part of its removal.
Every time Felix and her calf Maximus (nicknamed max) were walked to or from the barn, Scott Riddle, Heidi Riddle or Mark would bring a cattleprod. I saw each handler shock Felix with the prod numerous times, usually in Felix and Max’s pen after Felix did not lift her trunk or foot on command, urinates in attempt to risk being hobbles, or was being slow. Mark said Felix was shocked because she misbehaved. When “Growing up Elephant” was being filmed, either I, or the other intern were asked to carry the cattleprod out of view from the cameras. One night, after I saw Felix being shocked numerous times, until she looked stunned and sad, I started to cry.
The elephants were only fed produce by donation. They only received fresh fruits and vegetables for one out of the four weeks I interned there. The rest of the time they were fed hay (twice daily), grain (twice daily) and ten pounds of bread products per day. The bread was from bakery thrift stores, and included cream filled cupcakes, “ding dongs,” small pies, “ho-hos,” donuts and poundcake. While I refused to give cake to the elephants, the other staff members fed it to them.
When I interned at Riddle’s, the staff consisted of between one and three interns, Heidi and Scott Riddle (who did not help clean barns or feed the elephants,) Mark Easly and his partner Karen, Rhonda a former intern who had been on staff six months and Johnny, a young man who had been working for two years cleaning and feeding. The work was constant and hectic; I cannot imagine how busy it would be with the addition of more elephants.
Karen confessed that around half of the interns leave before their month was over, and only twenty five percent complete the internship and do a “good job.”
As an intern, I was constantly exposed to severe racist and homophobic slurs and sexist comments by the staff.
Riddle’s elephant sanctuary is not an appropriate home for abused elephants. Hawthorn’s elephants may have “bad attitudes” as a result of their abuse, allowing them to live at Riddle’s would reintroduce them to being hobbled and shocked like Felix.

The elephant protection project

In December 1999, the Captive Animals Protection Society revealed that Katie and Crumple, two female Asian elephants at Blackpool Zoo had been electric shocked during training. The elephants, like many zoo and safari park elephants in the UK, have been trained to perform tricks to entertain zoo visitors.

In 1998, an Elephant Training Seminar was held at Blackpool Zoo. In charge, was Scott Riddle, an American elephant trainer.

In a letter to the American Zoological Society dated December 1999, Pat Derby of PAWS writes:

"The disturbing facts surrounding the deaths of zoo elephants associated with Scott Riddle are common knowledge in the elephant community and have been carefully hidden while Mr Riddle conducts his elephant training school and his consultant services to zoos throughout the world."

The elephant handlers course

The Elephant Handlers Course was held at Blackpool Zoo in September 1998. It was attended by keepers from UK zoos and Safari parks. Representatives from Woburn, Whipsnade, Longleat and West Midlands Safari Parks and Twycross zoo attended. Blackpool zoos elephant keeping staff were also present. The curriculum included proper use of chains, proper use of rope, elephant training and elephant breeding.

CAPS decided to investigate and expose the methods Scott Riddle use to train elephants. We put an investigator on the elephant handling course. Our investigator met Riddle and zoo manager Iain Valentine. In his office Valentine demonstrated with an elephant hook how to give the elephants a whack, because elephant training was about the trainer establishing the 'right' relationship to begin with.

Our investigator kept a diary, in which it was noted that Scott Riddle was adamant that his work with the Blackpool elephants was not to be filmed in case 'something went wrong'. He said that the public wouldn't understand 'why we do it (train the elephants) this way'.

During training the elephants urinated a lot. This seemed to be a reaction to the training/handling process. At one point when the elephants were taken out for a walk in the paddock, a Blackpool elephant keeper carried an electric shock device, a 4 feet long bright yellow hot shot (see pictures). Our investigator was told by another of the 'students' that 2 weeks before the course started Riddle had pulled down the elephants with ropes and a winch and they were shocked with the electric prods, to establish his authority. Riddle told students that the elephants did what he wanted because of his demeanor - some of the students did not know until later that week that it was the shocking treatment they had received and not his demeanor that made the elephants scared of Scott Riddle.

Riddle was supposed to train elephants in other safari parks in 1999 but for some reason these training sessions were cancelled. At an elephant meeting held that week at the Zoo, some elephant keepers on the course would not discuss in front of others the training procedures they used on elephants. It was noted that the Chipperfield court case would put the spot light on zoo elephant trainers.

In December 1999 CAPS was able to prove that the electric shock devices were used on the elephants. Blackpool Council who own the zoo admitted in a letter that the goads had been used. The Director of Community Services says "The goads were used once or twice during training... the voltage discharge will give no long term damage". CAPS has taken advice from elephant experts and Veterinary Surgeons who disagree. Dr Bill Jordan, retired wildlife vet and elephant expert says:

"Amnesty International believes the cruellest method to torture people is with electricity - the same is true for animals".

Iain Valentine the zoo manager denied the electric shock devices were used. In a letter to Irene Boyne he said "The use of electric goads is not permitted". He also lied in a letter to Joan Humble MP. Valentine said "I could not contemplate when stretching would be used in elephant training!" Yet on the undercover video whilst in his office he tells our investigator that the elephants are doing a bit of stretching!

Diane Westwood VN, Executive Director of CAPS has worked in the zoo industry and is a qualified Veterinary Nurse. She says:

"We are appalled that Katie and Crumple have been treated in this way. Elephants are extremely special, intelligent and sensitive animals. To torture these animals using electric shock devices so that they can perform circus type tricks for zoo visitors is an utter disgrace".

The video footage, filmed undercover, shows the elephants being trained to life their feet and head, hold sticks in their mouths and are jabbed with elephant hooks in the shoulder and head. Keepers from other zoos and safari parks take it in turns to climb up and sit on one of the elephants. The elephants urinate frequently, and vocalise – particularly when they are forced to hold a stick in their mouths. On day 4 Scott Riddle admitted damaging Katie's mouth by pulling on the hook. Also on Day 4 our investigator counted 18 'holes' in Katie's face, Crumples also had blood on her face. Blackpool zoo elephant keepers can clearly be seen jabbing the elephants with elephant hooks on film.

This investigation was given massive coverage in national press and media. We hope that the public remember what they have read when they see performing elephants in zoos. Pat Simpson, CAPS Director and Blackpool resident is horrified. She has demanded a public inquiry into the treatment of elephants at Blackpool Zoo. Blackpool Council are investigating. The CAPS Elephant Protection Project will continue. We will not stop, until the abuse of captive elephants in zoos and circuses has ceased.


In California a bill was introduced to offer some protection to captive elephants. The bill states 'It shall be a misdemeanor for any owner or manager of an elephant to engage in abusive behaviour toward the elephant, which behaviour shall include; depravation of food, water and rest; use of electricity; physical punishment resulting in damage, scarring or breakage of skin; insertion of any instrument into any bodily orifice.'

CAPS has asked our government to introduce similar legislation. Please help us by writing to your MP.

Elephant training

A retired elephant keeper summarised elephant training. It includes:

Chaining – to establish initial dominance over elephants, they are chained for long periods. Chains are attached to one or both front and back legs and sometimes around the neck. The animal is sometimes ''stretched' - this is where the elephant lowers down onto its sternum. It is an unnatural position, one that elephants do not assume for any length of time through choice. If forced to stay in this position for any length of time circulation can be affected and it can be fatal.

Beating – To further 'break' elephants during training sessions they are beaten with implements.

Electric shocks – once elephants are broken to a training schedule, electric shock devices, sometimes called 'hotshots' are applied to force the elephant into the desired routine.

Ankus or elephant hook – jabbed into sensitive areas such as the chin, ears, mouth and feet. The training of an elephant relies on domination. The elephant is beaten into a low social rank and is kept there. This becomes a never ending battle between the elephant and trainer and is why so many elephant trainers are killed.

Elephant training relies on the application of pain and restraint. It is not just a one off process either. It carries on throughout the elephant's life.

Reversing an elephant, using elephant hooks and pulling her tail.
After a training session, Katie and Crumple comfort each other, and touch each others wounds.
Forcing the elephant to hold a stick in her mouth.
Elephant forced into stretched position.
If held in this position for long elephants may have circulatory problems and can die.
Zoo Manager Iain Valentine demonstrates how to 'whack' an elephant with an elephant hook.


Tumai's Last "Training Session"

The Riddle of Tumai
Ask The Elephant Consultant
Is a Bulldozer/Skiploader the best way to train an elephant?

The Death of Tumai. Riddle Watches.

July 19, 1984:
Tumai, a young African elephant, had a history of aggressive attacks against keepers. Bull elephants frequently exhibit more aggression than females. Young bull elephants are trained in an attempt to keep them manageable enough to be used for breeding. After a series of incidents at the park which was Tumai's original home, he was sold to a circus in Florida and became the property of a popular "elephant consultant" who specialized in training elephants for rides.
Elephant trainers frequently chain difficult elephants in positions so physically limiting that they are scarcely able to move. Tumai was chained in this manner for most of the summer with no shade or shelter. Reports stated he was fed and watered infrequently to further debilitate his physical strength.
Electric shock was administered and failed. Determined to subdue Tumai, trainers rammed him with a skip loader tractor to show him there were things bigger and stronger than he was. "They rammed him in the back and in the head, then left him lying there," an eye witness reported later.
Tumai had sustained terrible physical damage, and was unable to stand. According to reports that were received later, Tumai's owner was asked to remove the elephant from the zoo grounds to protect the zoo from public outrage should his condition become known. When it was apparent that it would be impossible to move him, he was finally euthanized after months of torment and suffering, from 5/10/84-07/19/84 according to medical reports.

(This is not what I read the first time I researched Tumai, many years ago. There was nothing about euthanasia. Tumai died of physical damage and torture. His killer is, to this day, not only "training" elephants, but running an elephant sanctuary. jj)

Rest in Peace Tumai.

Riddle, May You Suffer on Earth and Rot in Hell...

Tumai in death, Scott Riddle looks on.

Riddle murders young Tumai with a bulldozer/ prolonged suffering and death:

Riddle murders Twinkles during a training session - calls it an 'act of God':

Riddle banned from Black pool zoo for torturing elephants:

more info:

Boycott Riddles 'Growing up Elephant' Tuesday, 7:30 AM

I cant belive Animal Planet is still airing this horrific show!

All chains bullhooks and propaganda! Its still being aired on Animal Planet!

Tune in to see Scott and his wife Heidi putting on quite a :SHOW [of bullshit] for the audience.

Watch Riddle have baby Max take a drink of water and FORCE him to hold his breath with the water in his trunk - Riddle holds his little trunk tip closed until he [Riddle/torturer] says MAX can breath.

Send your comments of outrage to AP

Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Sunday March 12, 2006, 8:37 am
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Roy M. (339)
Sunday March 12, 2006, 9:13 am
Sent a letter! Thank you Eles for this post!!

Past Member (0)
Sunday March 12, 2006, 9:41 am
I WILL SEND A LETTER!!! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE THAT THEY WOULD CONTINUE PROMOTING THIS MONSTER!!!!! Thank you Eles, for all of this valuable information. I am shocked and INSANELY angry at this HORRIBLE person!!! Poor Poor Tumai! Rest in peace, sweet friend...and I hope you are now FREE. You deserve it. And RIDDLE....he will get what he deserves...somehow...sometime...some way.

Susan D. (64)
Sunday March 12, 2006, 10:22 am
Thank you very much for this info Eles! At times like this, I truly hope there is a Hell for humans, because it is obvious that people like Riddle will have a one-way ticket. And deserve it!

Lisa P. (119)
Sunday March 12, 2006, 11:31 am
This is sickening. Thank you for educating the public about Riddles so called sanctuary.

Past Member (0)
Sunday March 12, 2006, 11:34 am
Letter sent!

Tony M. (155)
Sunday March 12, 2006, 11:54 am
Riddle should be in jail, and not running a pseudo-sanctuary!!

Vicki Murray (119)
Monday March 13, 2006, 1:26 am
letter sent!!! and thank you again!

Dian T. (603)
Thursday March 16, 2006, 6:23 am
You bet letter was sent.........ugh!!!!

Adriana G. (286)
Thursday March 16, 2006, 7:59 am
Thnak you Eles.. Sent the letter

Laura E. (97)
Sunday March 19, 2006, 2:21 am
He sounds like a real bastard. I will definitely send a letter.

Patty H. (90)
Saturday April 8, 2006, 3:13 pm
I was unaware of this and I am sick to stomach over it. I sent a letter to Discovery/Animal Planet. Thank you so much for letting people know about this. In my letter I asked AP to stop airing the show and to let the viewers know why it wouldn't be aired anymore.

Also, I googled Growing up Elephant and this boycott information is the 2nd listing that comes up. Pretty impressive! Scott Riddle is a real bastard. Hope he burns in hell.

ABC De (78)
Sunday February 18, 2007, 2:06 pm
The letters and comments seemed to have no impact on Animal Planet... they are airing the show again on March 7 2007............

Animal Planet :: Episode :: Growing Up Elephant
Witness the miraculous birth and a year of baby elephant's firsts, as Maximus goes from a 300-pound baby to an 11000-pound giant. ...


At least we'll have another opportunity to tell them how we feel.

Cindy Celmer (0)
Monday September 10, 2012, 8:04 pm
What the hell? how dare you call this an elephant sanctuary! Making lots of $$$$$$$ aren't you! Some day The Reaper will come for YOU & YOUR WIFE!

Cindy Celmer (0)
Monday September 10, 2012, 8:18 pm
Thank you Eles for this shocking info. Like i commented on a different post-Riddile will feel The Reaper Soon!

Cindy Celmer (0)
Monday September 10, 2012, 8:19 pm
Thank you Eles for this shocking info. Like i commented on a different post-Riddile will feel The Reaper Soon!

Cindy Celmer (0)
Monday September 10, 2012, 8:39 pm
What the hell? how dare you call this an elephant sanctuary! Making lots of $$$$$$$ aren't you! Some day The Reaper will come for YOU & YOUR WIFE!



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