The Ringling Brothers circus is in Colorado this month. Recent studies have shown that elephants are even more intelligent than previously believed (Discovery News, March 2011). “We tend to think that elephants and humans are greatly different, but study results show that we share some social mind skills with elephants.” Their intelligence is believed to be equal to that of primates.
There is no excuse for the abuse that goes on in the circus. Elephants have the largest brains in the animal kingdom and, as circus performers they are deprived of anything resembling a natural life. They are confined by chains and forced to perform tricks they will only do through the use of brute force against them. When not performing, they travel in 18-wheelers or by train. They are shackled by their front and back legs so that they can’t take a step forward or backward. They are forced to eat, sleep, and defecate in the same trailers, where they can be kept for more than 24 hours.
Documented proof of abuse comes from former circus trainers who admit they beat elephants in order to get them to perform tricks. One trainer has photos of “young elephants trussed in ropes as bullhooks are pressed to their skin. A bullhook is about the length of a riding crop. The business end is made of steel and has two tips, one hooked and one coming to a blunt nub.” Another part of the trainer’s account recalls: “The baby elephant is slammed to the ground,” [the trainer] says. “See its mouth is wide open? It’s screaming bloody murder. It doesn’t have its mouth open for a carrot.” (Washington Post, December 16, 2009).
Let’s take our families to non-animal circuses and show Ringling Brothers that this type of violence is not welcome in our town and state. Or take a hike outdoors where it’s free to see all kinds of animals in their natural habitat.