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Music For Your Enjoyment

ringling picElephants working in the circus have been a hot topic for quite sometime.  Recently people have been commenting on the footage, and pictures, I took at the Ringling Brother’s Center for Elephant Conservation.    Several months ago I had been invited to go see the Ringling facility, as well as the new born baby that was only one month old at the time.  Obviously they knew I was coming so they were prepared.  I was limited to certain areas of the facility.  They told me it was for my safety as well as the elephants.  The people I met were very nice and knowledgeable.  Many of them had been with Ringling their whole lives and so had their parents.  It seemed like a “family”. You can also read the specific piece I did on the Asian elephant back on December 10, 2009.


I am not an expert in animal training or behavior.  I have seen dogs being trained by ”experts” and in my opinion it was extreme.  There are a lot of people who criticize Cesar Millan and say he is “abusive” in the way he trains dogs.  In the end, the goal is reached, the behavior is changed and the dog does what Cesar, and the owners, wants them to do.

A few months ago I had been notified of a local dog sanctuary.  They take dogs most people would not want because they are aggressive and untrained.  These dogs might not be alive if it had not been for the man who has the sanctuary.   He seems to be able to bond with these dogs and the dogs listen to him.   They live out in the swamps of Florida and the conditions are brutal.  My heart went out to these dogs because of the environment they were living in.  Then I realized, this guy lives on the property with them.  If he can do it, why can’t the dogs?  I’ve spoken to some dog trainers and behaviorists who have sent dogs there.  They told me that the dogs love this man.  The dogs don’t know how rough the living conditions are.  They are fed, have lots of other dogs for companionship and get love from this man.  That is where the difference between humans and animals can be so different.  Animals seem to want very little but give so much.

elephant kneesI was sent pictures and information from PETA.  Here is an excerpt:  Bound with ropes in the practice area, baby elephants are wrestled by several adult men—some using sharp bull hooks and electric shock prods—slammed to the ground, and aggressively pushed and pulled into positions that will eventually be incorporated into a circus routine. The frightened baby elephants cry out, but according to the whistleblower, Ringling uses loud music to muffle their screams.

The whistleblower is former elephant handler Sam Haddock, who worked at Ringling’s Center for Elephant Conservation, a breeding and training center, in Polk City, Florida, off and on between 1997 and 2005. His late wife had urged him to do the right thing and expose Ringling’s torturous treatment of elephants at its so-called “conservation center.”

elephant legs

The pictures really bothered me and I wished I could take these animals home with me.  I sent the pictures and information to a friend of mine who is in Asia helping the elephants over there.  Here is what she wrote to me regarding the Ringling elephants:

What is this world coming to? My God…it’s heartbreaking!

Actually the sad truth is, what happens in real life is far, far worse than those Ringling pictures. What I saw in Asia, those poor elephants had so many deep cuts and lots of blood from their ears, head, legs, chest and sometimes their eyes are gouged to render them blind (easier to control),  it’s that brutal! The beatings happen round the clock too- they take turns for days and nights in a row until the elephant is dead or almost, no food or water is given to them for a week. If it is unfortunate to survive the torture, the rest of its life will be succumbed to slave-like conditions, daily beatings, poor nourishment, no love and neglect.  And/or they get shipped around the world to zoos and circuses only to endure the same treatment, as you can see. The white man is no better!

The video footage, the pictures and what I saw in person was far more disturbing, which is why I couldn’t turn my back on it, it made my blood boil! But sadly, yes those pictures are very similar to what I saw. I guess it’s standard practice everywhere to torture and abuse the animals into submission. In Thailand this process is called  “the Pajaan”, in India they call it “The Kraal” etc. AKA “Spirit Crusher”…believe me it’s not just the elephant’s spirit that is crushed!! Anyone with any humanity will be crushed seeing that, I don’t understand those “people” who can do it, and have they no ounce of compassion?

So many battles to fight…

elephant side

I don’t have the answers but I do want to put information out there so that people can see what is going on, different points of view and can take action in their own way.

Here you can watch the birth of an elephant.

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27 Responses to “Circus Elephants, The Truth?”

  • Shay Topps says:

    He is merely so cute!

  • Valerie says:

    I love elephants and wish in my heart of hearts that they would not be subjected to the emotional and physical cruelty that traveling with a circus causes them.

  • Verena says:

    Hello. Very interesting Blog. Not really what i have searched over Google, but thanks for the information.

  • I live here in Sarasota and have been trying to do something about circus animal cruelty for over 20 years. I have published and sent letters, written congress, attended protests,etc. etc. etc. On and on. Over the years I have determined that small voices do not reach those who have the power to resolve this elephant cruelty or any other animals cruelty which is most prevalent throughout our nation.

    I have determined that, until such time as ALL of the major animal welfare organizations, and I mean ALL combine their efforts along with those of us who care, we will continue to have animal cruelty in America and throughout the world.

    Nothing less will ever solve the problem of animal cruelty. Are any of the “big boys” listening??

  • Erika says:

    Any fairly educated and civilized individual understands how ridiculous and obsolete animal circuses are. It’s sad that this isn’t the majority of the world population.
    I feel it is our responsibility as human beings to stand against abuse and do our very best to make it stop.

  • Larry says:

    I appreciate differing views on HOT topics. It enhances our conversations and sharpens our knowledge, and questions our positions. One very hot topic has always been the use of animals for product and medical testing. I truthfully do NOT know where I stand on this issue. First of all, I dont believe in abusing any animal period. I do however understand the need to test vaccines, antibiotics etc on test subjects as close to human physiology as possible. I would much rather them use an animal than a human, yet I know for a fact that human testing goes on all the time. So, maybe you guys can help iron sharpen iron on this.

    One side note, I am an individual who has grown up suspecting that our AMA, FDA CDC and Big Pharma have conspired to create monopolies (govt approved drug cartels), in order to price fix, to hamper competition, and to hamstring companies that offer homeopathic remedies. They do so by using tactics like name calling, restriction from using certain govt ‘owned’ terms like, ‘heal, cure, treat, diagnose, prevent, etc’, and by using the IRS and other agencies to intimidate and interrupt business cycles in order to ‘protect’ selfish interests and to insure that natural products have a difficult time competing in the market place. OR am I just paranoid? ha

  • Lilliam says:

    I have to say that I REALLY wish the use of animals, especially wild ones, especially elephants, who are so intelligent, were banned from use in the entertainment industry. For every one handler that treats the creatures well, there are SCORES of others that abuse them. The circus is notorious! I would never take a child, and educated my son’s class about why the circus is an evil place for animals. Bad enough we take them from their homes, these undomesticated species, but then torture them to provide entertainment for humans? Obscene!

  • Natalie says:


    Thanks for exposing this however this is not anything new and it is the reason that I never shop at or with on line “Sears” as they support Ringling Brothers Circus which has the elephants who are so abused. It’s horrible. If you have any ideas as to how we can help, whom we can write to to protest this abominable treatment of our fellow creatures please let us all know!

    Thanks for caring…please be sure to boycott Sears!

    Natalie Kriegler

  • Michael says:

    There is ample and indisputable evidence that not only elephants but other sentient animals such as apes, bears, and dogs are subjected to abusive training practices for the mere amusement of human audiences. The offenders are circuses, carnivals, rodeos, dog and cock fighting, “animals for hire” vendors, animal trainers catering to the film industry (although less so in recent years), and individual “free-lance” street performers. Check the websites of PETA and WSPA for graphic evidence. Equally disheartening are the zoos and aquariums that feature trained animals including aquatic mammals. Although their training methods may be less abusive, they are sending the message that trained animal shows are an acceptable form of family entertainment.
    What message are you sending when a psycho like Michael Vick is welcomed back into professional sports because… “well, after all, he did his time and he’s sorry”? Legislating these practices out of existence along with better and more sophisticated education of children is the answer. The old attitudes and perceptions of what is “good, wholesome family fun” are dangerously outmoded.

  • Rita says:

    I HAVE ALWAYS HATED THE CIRCUS SINCE I WAS A KD!! I dont htink I can read or watch anything on how htey train as it will make me sick, have mystomach full of dogy issues, but there isnt a single thing about the circus that WOWS me………. 🙁

  • Nigel says:

    Watch this link to see what happens to elephants in circuses.

    New Zealand’s last circus elephant was retired last month after huge pressure from animal rights groups and for this I am proud.

  • Larry says:

    I used to own a large party rental company. One of the things always requested was animals rides. We used an elephant handler in Texas who had a state of the art facility complete with climate controlled barns, ponds and the best food possible. Because some loonies from PETA didnt like him ‘exploiting’ the animals for profit, they burned his barn in the middle of the night, killing ALL of his herd. Tell me the reasoning behind that?

    Most people fail to understand is that a person who works animals to be around the public, treat them with kid gloves because first of all, they LOVE the animals, secondly, their business depends on presenting healthy and tame animals!

    • Susan says:

      I think the comment posted by Larry Fenn in well stated. There are extremes in the treatment of animals from not only those in the entertainment industry (including horse racing), but also retailers, breeders, daycare providers, and even veterinary clinics.

      I also agree that the extremists of PETA undermine the credibility of all animal welfare advocates, when there are so many legitimate concerns to address.

      As a veterinarian who is greatly concerned about animal welfare, I would like to see an accrediting process for all businesses that use animals for entertainment. An unannounced site visit would give added assurance that conditions are met.

  • Kurt Walker says:

    I don’t think I shared this with you? I to as a young boy went to the circus with my Dad, back then the awareness of animal treatment was not present. I must say I was mortified when I read some articles about the inhumane treatment of how circus animals are treated. I think it is so cruel to break the spirit of these wonderful God given creatures. Here is one way I contributed to the cause, at a recent circus I joined a few people and carried a sign in front of the circus to protest the inhumane treatment and abuse. I know many people saw it and saw me and looked in my eyes, if nothing else it made them very aware of the situation. I will continue my protest at every circus that comes in to town.

    Kurt Walker
    Toronto Maple Leaf [NHL]

    • Paige says:

      I remember you telling me about that. There is someone who wants to protest in Sarasota. They have had a hard time finding the right person to connect with. If you have a contact person please let me know. Thanks again!

  • Fred says:

    Ciruses are for the most part pure evil and they exploit animals for profit. They are right up there with Puppy Mills, Dog Fighting Rings, Bull Fighting, Cock Fighting and any other activity a Humane Society might investigate. And yet, the circuses manage to continue to still do what they do. A circus could still be a circus and entertain people without the use of animals, but I guess some people are still entertained by it, which is the sadest piece of the puzzle. If people did not WANT to see elephants perform the circuses would stop using them. But people still want it. Its like the Roman Colloseum fights, our species has not yet evolved to understand the true level of cruelty and inhumanity this form of entertainment represents. So sad.

  • Maria says:

    I wrote to PETA . I am interested in picketing outside on New Years Eve, opening night. Do you have any info on that, I havent heard back from them yet.

  • donna rowe says:

    my daughter, now 22, at the age of 8 became an advid animal rights activist and taught me a lot. we had the honor of helping pass a 4th degree felony law in the state to deal with abuse and neglect of animals. i don’t understand why this law wouldn’t apply to elephants too. our enforcement of these laws to protect animals, even dogs and cats, is sorely underutilized. any suggesstions? i know that the “cruelest show on earth” does unspeakable things to the elephants. i let my daughter when she was very young (she wanted so bad to help and i am and was so proud of her) go with a local animal advocay group on an “under-cover mission” with the director to explore the conditions of the elephants in the train during transport. the report was heartbreaking.God help us. there must be a solution. Bernie. excellent observations and conclusions.

  • lilliam says:

    I will NEVER EVER take my children to the circus. In fact, I would like to be involved in starting a legislative process to ban animals, especially elephants, in circuses.

    “Oh, I’ve been crying lately, thinking about the world as it is….”
    Cat Stevens

  • I can believe how “people” treat animals, we are an arrogant, self centered, and greedy species as a whole. God tasked us with being the Stewards of the animals, not the abusers. I have never taken my children to a circus, I have taken them to a rodeo one time with a friend of mine. We lasted until the calf roping, which made my children burst into tears, we have never been back. Animals are not here for our entertainment, and these “trainers” are horrible “people”. I wonder how they treat their children.

  • Michele says:

    I did go to the circus when I was a child, and I remember hating it. Really, I just sensed that the animals should not be performing. I have seen other trained animal acts, and I know people who train animal actors. The ones I personally know care a great deal about their animals. The woman who works with horses at Big Apple Circus really cares about her horses. I’ve heard that they are treated better than the workers. I also know dog trainers who have rescued shelter dogs to have these dogs perform in some circuses. I’ve met a few and their dogs, who are happy performing.
    If I do not know the trainer, I won’t go to the circus or take my son to the circus. Basically, elephants, big cats, bears, kangaroos, and other wild animals should not be performing in a circus. It’s cruel.
    We like Circus Oz. I believe they are from Australia, and they don’t use animals.

  • Angela says:

    I’m so angry and upset at what these poor creatures go through in the name of entertainment. I struggle to do my day job sometimes, hours spent in front of a laptop, when what I really want to do is make a difference and fight for what I believe in – an end to the needless cruelty so many innocent animals are subjected to.

    What’s the answer? How can we make a difference? I don’t want to sit by, read the articles, heart broken and then carry on with life, I want to take a stand, but it’s so hard to know how to.

    Thank god articles like this raise awareness.

    • Paige says:

      There are a lot of organizations all over the world that help animals. They need volunteers. It’s a great way to give back and gives you other skills at the same time. In this economy, having lots of different experience is a necessity. Call your local shelter or rescue and ask them for a list of organizations in your area. If there is an issue you feel really strong about, and want to hold a protest sign, that is another option. Some people like to do that. It’s not for everyone but might be your thing.

      Thanks again for your comments.

    • Michelle Kaplan says:

      Sign up with any number of non-profit organizations to receive their action emails and lend your name and comments to their efforts.
      Often these action emails are about proposed animal welfare legislation on federal, state or city levels. The animal welfare groups or legislative sponsors need a critical number of citizen advocates to lobby to get the bills sponsored or passed. Go to,,, or any number of others and click take action or action center. Sign up to have them deliver their petitions to your email box. It doesn’t take a lot of your personal time, but it’s vital to getting the animals the help they need.
      If you’re serious, you’ll do it. And you’ll feel good about yourself and know you are making a difference.

    • Lar says:

      Let me ask you, are you Pro-Life for the unborn humans too?

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