ABC news has been reporting on the aftermath of an elephant attack in a zoo in Toledo, Ohio. The zoo’s “star elephant” Baby Louie attacked his trainer on July 1st. Since then the employees of the zoo have been taking extra caution in dealing with Baby Louie for fear that he may injure others.
Whenever there is an attack of this nature in the news, there is always an attempt by zoo officials to obscure an obvious truth: that animals – especially animals with the enormous intellectual capacity of elephants – do not want to live in zoos. It is absurd to think that an animal, as large as an elephant and as intelligent as an elephant, could ever be psychologically healthy in an environment as small as a zoo. They are born to be animals that live in wide open spaces with plenty of room to roam.
According to ABC, there have been nearly twenty zoos that have either shut down or decided to phase out their elephant exhibits in the past twenty years due to concerns about space, climate, and the animals’ health. There is no way to get around the fact that elephants have no place in confined man-made environments. And they certainly should not be taken from their herds and families in Africa and Asia and transported to North America to be entertainment for humans.
The elephants at the Toledo Zoo are trained and handled using a method which is called “free contact”, which is a nice way of saying they are trained using a heavy rod with a metal hook on the end. These rods called bullhooks are staples of the circus industry which also uses them to train elephants. Officials with zoos and circuses alike consistently assert that a bullhook is used only as a “guide” and that animals are never struck with them. Even if there weren’t a plethora of videos of trainers using bullhooks to beat elephants mercilessly, holding one in your hand is all the evidence you need to determine their real purpose. The one I held was at least twice as heavy as your average claw hammer and the point on the end was as sharp as the point of any knife.
So when you take an animal accustomed to African climates, wide open spaces, the freedom to move about to his heart’s desire and to find intellectual stimulation and companionship, and then you take him to a place as cold as Ohio, lock him in a confined area, and beat him with a heavy pointed rod, are you honestly surprised when he eventually lashes out at one of his captors? Don’t be foolish.
Animals do not exist for our amusement any more than they exist for our consumption. Zoos, rodeos, circuses, and other forms of animal-based “entertainment” are the cruelest forms of animal exploitation. They don’t even dissemble their cruelty behind a guise of beneficial scientific research or satisfying nutritional needs. Zoos and circuses exist openly as places where animals are confined, beaten, starved, and ultimately killed for the amusement of human beings.
Boycott zoos, circuses, rodeos, horse racing, bullfights, and every other kind of cruel and inhumane treatment of animals. Let the people who run these businesses know there is no future in making a living off of the mistreatment of animals, for the enjoyment of humans.
Photo: Mara 1