“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair
Some realities that are so horrific, so barbaric, that they pain the heart to do so. And yet, to change those realities, we must screw up our courage and face down the intolerable.
Barnum & Bailey’s treatment of circus elephants is one such intolerable reality.
You may have wondered how the Ringling Bros. circus gets an 8,000-pound elephant to perform tricks like sitting up or standing on his or her head. It is through cruelty, plain and simple. The famed circus breaks the spirit of elephants when they are vulnerable babies who should still be with their mothers. They live a life of slavery from the moment they are born: each natural movement, every instinct and way of being is destroyed, using bull hooks, ropes and electric shock.
After enduring the barbaric training as youngsters, the elephants then move to a lifetime in chains. These enormous creatures of the wild are chained in filthy, poorly ventilated boxcars for an average of more than 26 straight hours—and as long as 60 to 100 hours at a time—when the circus travels to its next town to “entertain” circus-goers.
For further evidence, click through to “The Saddest Show On Earth, a comprehensive site chronicling Barnum & Bailey’s lies, torture and cruelty by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). There are opportunities to take action on the well-documented torture (56 photos) of these magnificent animals who have long demonstrated their intelligence, capacity to mourn and ability to love.
This TAKE ACTION campaign is about three elephants in particular, named Karen, Nicole and Sara. Let’s start by saving these three ailing elephants, with an eye toward taking down the entire sad circus enterprise.
Read more about Karen, Nicole and Sara’s condition and sign this letter to Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, urging him to immediately pull these three from their servitude. And spread the word to boycott and protest Barnum & Bailey’s Circus when it comes to your city. Ringling Bros. has a long and shameful history steeped in animal cruelty, including elephants, tigers, lions and camels.
Here is the be life of the elephant under the big top:
Imagine if you had to walk to work every day while suffering from a debilitating medical condition that caused your joints to ache and your feet to throb.
At work, you’d be kept on your feet constantly and forced to perform physical labor for long shifts. You’d be given no chance to recuperate (much less retire), and when you slowed down or balked, your boss would strike you with something resembling a fireplace poker or would stick the pointy end of the instrument under your chin and drag you around.
When you weren’t working, you would live in chains and wouldn’t be given any medication for pain.
That’s pretty much what life is like for Karen, Nicole, and Sara—three elephants who are shunted from town to town by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Recently, independent exotic-animal veterinarians and a retired elephant manager, with nearly 100 years of combined experience, observed the elephants while the circus was in Charlotte, North Carolina. According to their official reports, all three elephants are suffering from lameness— a painful condition that can be made worse by the awkward contortions required to perform circus tricks and by a meager “life” on the road.
Nicole and Karen also suffer from arthritis, and Sara, who is only 9 years old, is well on her way to developing the disease. Ringling has ignored all recommendations that Nicole be excluded from performing certain routines, and now she is in such poor physical condition that experts insist that keeping her on the road constitutes “unnecessary cruelty.” Karen is also now back on the road, even after experts observed that she had deep, painful abscesses in her unkempt feet and exhibited serious unnatural behavior.
Elephants are meant to move about, roaming for miles over grass and soft terrain and engaging in activities that come naturally to them.
These hurting girls are not meant to stand on urine- and feces-covered cement for hours on end or to be beaten and forced by Ringling Bros. to perform harmful, unnatural tricks that strain their aching muscles and joints.
If this is evident to you, please sign the Take Action letter and lend your voice to Karen, Nicole and Sara.
More on these circus elephants and the efforts to help them: