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Elephants Under The Big Top

F “Elephants are poked by bull hooks, shocked by electric prods and chained to the ground.”

or many years Elephants have been used in circuses. They are expected to perform ridiculous tricks that they would never normally do for pleasure in the wild. The tricks that elephants have to learn are not easy and many times are confusing for them. A few tricks that elephants have to learn are standing on their hind legs, standing on a tiny pedastool, or doing “handstands.” If someone were out in the wild observing elephants they would never see an elephant perform stunts like these. . Unfortunately circuses own many elephants but they do not treat them with respect or care while training them. Circuses can get away with this cruel training because there are no government agencies that monitor the training sessions. If circuses had government agencies that they had to report to there could be more standards and regulations that would make the trainers treat elephants better. Bull hooks and Electric prods are used to train elephants. One side of the bull hook has a sharp end that trainers can use to put pressure on the elephant in sensitive areas and hurt them until they do what they are told. The other side of the bull hook can be used like a police stick and it allows the trainers to beat the elephant until it does what it is told. An electric prod is used to shock the elephants into doing what they are told. These two training techniques reinforce that the humans are in control and are the “boss” of an elephant. Many people say that elephants enjoy performing and being in the circus, but in reality elephants are scared into doing the tricks they perform because they know that the outcome if they do not perform will be painful. . Circuses also travel across country when they perform shows. While


they travel all of the animals are put into boxcars, trailers, or trucks for days at a time. Elephants are chained to the ground during these times and they can be chained for almost 26 hours and sometimes they can be chained from 60 to 100 hours at a time. Being chained up for that long is not humane for any type of animal. Let alone animals as big as elephants. Elephants are not use to this type of confined space; they normally walk almost all day and night in the wild. Being chained to the ground for so long is also unhealthy for their feet. The toes of an elephant are formed so that it walks on its tip toe the whole time. The elephant’s foot is cushioned by a thick fatty pad inside the sole of the foot that softens the shock of every step. While elephants are chained they have to stand in their own waste which could cause rotting in the fatty pad in their feet, which then in turn could lead to arthritis and many other diseases. With the abusive training and the long term confinement of the chains, elephants increasingly become depressed and violent. In 1994 there was an elephant named Tyke who killed her trainer and injured 12 other people, before being shot to death. Since 2000 there have been more than 35 cases where an elephant has become violent and injured a person. Many people believe that elephants are a threat to our society, but in reality the circus is a threat to elephants. Many of the violent outbursts that elephants have end up getting them killed. Elephants use to have 300 different types of species and now they are down to two. Circuses are slowly knocking the numbers down even more. If elephants were treated in a humane way and were not confined every day then they would not turn into these violent creatures that they are becoming in circuses. Therefore they would create a loving relationship with their trainer instead of a hatred that could result in both the death of the trainer and the death of the elephant.

B

eing held captive in circuses also does not let elephants experience the wild or any type of natural environment. Elephants travel in groups like a family, many of the elephants in the group are in some way related to one another; somewhat similar to human beings. The female elephant plays an important role in this family structure. Female elephants are responsible to take care of their baby calves in the same way that humans take care of their babies. As the elephant nears her pregnancy the whole family unit takes responsibility on protecting her from possible danger and attending the moment of delivery. But for years afterwards the mother alone takes care of the baby. The baby depends on the mother for nourishment from her breast milk, and protection from the dangers that could attack it like lions and tigers. When circuses capture their elephants they usually capture them at about 3 to 9 months old and they tear the babies away from their mothers. When this happens, the baby elephants do not get the nourishment or family experience that they would usually get in the wild. When the circuses have captive elephants that have babies they also separate the mother and the baby. This in turn causes the mother to have stress from being away from her calf. If elephants were not in circuses they would not have to miss out on this vital part of their normal habitat.

“Female elephants are responsible to take care of their baby calves in the same way that humans take care of their babies�


B

eing in the circus also doesn’t allow elephants to do any of the fun activities they would normally do in the wild. Elephants are really big swimmers. Whenever they see any type of water they will most likely play in it. Once an Asian elephant went on a “tour� of the islands of the Bay of Bengal. It swam for more than 200 miles and took about 12 years to complete. Many other elephants have been seen in famous rivers such as the Nile and Zambezi. Elephants might not seem like the type of animal that would be a good swimmer, let alone enjoy it. But in reality swimming is one of their biggest pass times. Being captive in circuses does not allow elephants to swim or have any type of fun that they would have in the wild. Circuses do not have traveling pools with them that would allow the elephants to swim freely, thus again hindering elephants in what they would be accustomed to in the wild.

A

lthough elephants are being treating in horrific way in the circus, there are somethings that are trying to change this situation. There have been numerous animal rights groups who have gone to circuses and stood in front to protest against animal cruelty. These people have slowly influenced and put pressure on many people in the political area. Because of this pressure in many states they have tried and some have suceeded in bannign the use of exotic animals for entertainment in there city. Los Angeles is one of the largest cities that attract the acts of the circus and there city council is considering passing the law that would ban the use of these animals. Six other cities in California have already banned the use of exotic animals in the circus. If Los Angeles passes this law since it is one of our largest entertaining cities it could influence many other cities and states to eventually adopt the new law and hopefully the use of exotic animals in circuses will be banned completely and that way elephants will be able to continue living in the wild and doing the normal things that elephants would do instead of the silly tricks they are forced to perform in circuses.

Elephants Under the Big Top  

Elephants in the circus

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