This Video Will Make You Think Twice About Elephant Rides and Circuses

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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Jim Ven
Jim Ven4 months ago

thanks for the article.

Angie P.
Angela Padovani7 months ago

I can't watch the video. I think I've had my share of animal abuse stuff for the day and feel like having a good cry. Petition signed.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Croweabout a year ago

Petition signed and shared with every one I know! Let's get animals out of circuses for good.

Lisbeth Alvarado Sanchez
Lisbeth Alvarado Sanchezabout a year ago

It breaks my heart to see how this magnificent animals are tortured. We must continue fighting end this senseless cruelty.

KAROLY MOLINARIabout a year ago

Please stop taking advantage of the weaker and voiceless

Nadya Hall
Nadya Hallabout a year ago

Please sign the petition in support of the Traveling Wild and Exotic Animal Protection Act. In summary, the act — A.5407 in the New York State Assembly and S.5971 in the Senate — would add Section 352 to the New York Agriculture and Markets Law to prohibit any:

…traveling circuses or show from including the participation of an exotic or wild animal, including a non-human primate, in an animal act if during the thirty day period preceding such participation, such animal was traveling in a mobile housing facility.

The petition can be found here:

You can learn more about the Act and Circus Elephant Abuse here:

Graziella Veri
Graziella Veriabout a year ago

Noted and shared.Thank you

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H.about a year ago

Already signed. I can't believe the torment the animals go through for our "entertainment". Just disgusting. Being chained up with no where to move. Ultimate abuse. I have never been to a circus and will never go.

Nelson P. You are right. Everything that congress has done and will do has a dollar sign attached. Everything is "for the economy" and "create jobs" and they never care at what cost these jobs or incomes. This fact is really proven when they approve fracking, mining and nuclear. All the while chopping the daylights out of ESA and putting wolves in the crosshairs for the ranchers. All done for money.

All we can do is to keep protesting and refuse to support the circuses. Maybe if they lose the audience they will be forced to shut down.

Nelson Petrie
Nelson Petrieabout a year ago

When will the US Congress act and implement a ban on circuses throughout the country? Do these senators and representatives including governors of state ever give serious thought to animal cruelty that is endemic in this country? Or are they only concerned with opportunities that will provide them with profit through abusive animal entertainment schemes? Ordinary folks must step up the pressure and end such cruelty once and for all.

Donna F.
Donna F.about a year ago

petition signed, but I couldn't watch the video.