Following a few separate incidents with elephants that have gone wrong in recent weeks, including escapes from a circus and a lone elephant winding up in the Gulf of Mexico after leaving a birthday party, newly released footage obtained by Animal Defenders International (ADI) as part of its Stop Circus Suffering campaign is offering us another look at why we need to shut down elephant rides and stop using big, exotic animals at events and circuses.
While taking a ride on an elephant or having them make a cameo at an event may seem harmless, the abuse they suffer behind the scenes to get them to be compliant, combined with the unnatural living conditions they’re kept in as traveling performers, leaves them paying the ultimate price for our brief encounters.
In ADI’s latest video, workers at the Carson & Barnes circus are shown both blatantly and discretely using bullhooks, metal bars and stun guns to control elephants who clearly shouldn’t be used to give children rides – offering us yet more evidence of the cruelty involved behind the scenes and the potential dangers of continuing to use elephants at shows and events.
According to ADI, one of the elephants that handlers lost control of is Isa, who has been reported to have escaped on more than one occasion in the past. She can be seen ignoring the beating she’s getting before charging another elephant.
Despite this incident and others in recent weeks, this circus and others continue to allow elephants to have direct contact with the public and use the them to give children rides.
“This is the third US circus where ADI has filmed trainers shocking elephants with stun guns, so it’s fair to say that this animal abuse is endemic in the industry,” said ADI President Jan Creamer.
“Our investigations have shown that the violence used on these animals is also a factor of the lightweight, temporary enclosures, and anxious workers moving them across open ground, in close proximity to the public. It is a recipe for disaster,” she added.
Globally, 27 countries have acted to ban or restrict the use of wild animals in circuses, and now the U.S. has a chance to do the same with the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (H.R. 4525), which was introduced this May by Rep. Jim Moran over concerns about the welfare of animals who are forced to travel and perform and the safety risks they pose to us.
According to ADI, which is supporting the bill, there are an estimated 300 wild and exotic animals in U.S. circuses today. This groundbreaking legislation would ban their use in traveling circuses around the country and help end the suffering of elephants like the ones featured in this video and others forever.
Please sign and share the petition urging your representative to take a stand for animal welfare and public safety by supporting the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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