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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

477 Years of Suffering

Written by PETA | July 30, 2009
animalrights.about / CC
Elephants don't do headstands in the wild.

That’s the grand total of years that the 18 elephants used and abused by two of Ringling’s touring units have been forced to endure beatings, chaining, and standing in cramped, sweltering boxcars. If you break that down, Ringling has tormented just these elephants—they have dozens more—for a total of 5,724 months, 24,804 weeks, or 174,105 days.

To put this in perspective, Baby, Sarah, and Banana (three of the elephants who are traveling with Ringling) were forced to perform for the first time in 1968—the year that Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. We’ve come a long way since then—or have we?

Ringling talks a big game about “elephant conservation,” but the reality is that Ringling has actually removed more elephants from the wild than it has bred. Most of the elephants you see pirouetting and standing on their heads in Ringling performances at one point in their lives roamed vast jungles. You might call it Ringling’s other dirty secret (besides that little issue of beating the @#$% out of elephants when they think nobody’s looking).

Ringling’s elephants are also dying faster than they are breeding: At least 26 elephants, including four babies, have died since 1992. Eight were under the age of 40 (which is just about half an elephant’s natural life expectancy of 70 years). Oh, and those babies Ringling does manage to breed are only used to replenish its stocks as other elephants die—they will never be released into the wild—ever.

Pretty depressing, isn’t it? Ringling must be using some kind of new math to make all that add up to “conservation.”

If you follow the jump, you can read about each of the elephants—and the life sentences to which Ringling has condemned them.

Written by Alisa Mullins

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  • Ryan Gorman says:

    These animals do not deserve this treatment which is why my children will never visit the circus..

  • emma says:

    why steph??

  • Jillian Cartwright says:

    these poor animals…

  • michelle says:

    i still dont get it why some circus use animals doing some trick like elephant r use mostly it is kinda sad seen animals abuse especialy in a circus it suck being all day in a cage more than being in a wild AND IN THE CIRCUS TRAVEL all over the world doing swome cruelity stuff i rather 2 see a clown more than animals from the circus

  • Matt Greenwood says:

    FK OFF “Steph”!!

  • Jessica says:

    This absolutly breaks my heart reading this. I have such a love for elephants… they are meant to roam in wide open spaces or even in jungles not on circus grounds. why are we putting these animals to work?! They arent human. they arent getting paid. nothing. nor SHOULD they. Animals have a brain therefore they have feelings. Imagine being ripped away from your family to go be with complete strangers EVERYDAY where they beat you and make you do things you dont want to do. It’s absolutley disgusting. People have no right to be on this earth if they feel that this is funny or entertaining. How about we get some real entertainment and watch these people do the things they make the elephants do. This article brought tears to my eyes. so wrong disgusting and immorale.

  • Steph says:

    PETA has a lot of nerve condemning Ringling…

  • rokit says:

    I personally wouldn’t have a problem with animal circuses if the animals were treat with respect and taken care of. And kids were educated about the animals. I’m 21 and I remember going to the circus and the amazement that it brought but as I learned what happens it just became sad. I just don’t understand how anyone could treat an animal like this. How can you stand there and hit an elephant? you can see it’s scared! it flinched when he raised the stick! Elephants are so..human. I’ve played peekaboo with an elephant! they are so playful.. it’s just sad. It has to be stopped.

  • gazisponymad says:

    its good that people are finally starting to wake up and see the cruelty no animal can or should do those things elephants are endangered they don’t need to endanger their lives doing handstands

  • Matt Greenwood says:

    That picture is so disturbing! I would never have thought that an Elephant could do that It’s physically mentally sickening! You would never go on a Safari trip in Africa or Asia see an Elephant standing on it’s head! I hope The Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus get every punishment they deserve in the upcoming trial let’s see them being punished for once. I hope that one day innocent animals will be free of having to perform stupid unnatural “tricks”!! Also I had no idea how old The Rigling Bros. was It’s horrifying to think that they have been tormenting poor animals for 138 years!!

  • karona says:

    This should be a crime it is heinous and torture to these animals and all animals abused to be forced to perform it all comes down to the $$$$$$$$$. Some people will use and abuse anthing or anybody for the almighty dollar. Anyone who abuses an animal needs to be imprisoned and beat every day into submission or beat just for the hell of it. What they dish out the deserve to receive.

  • Poonam says:

    Circuses should be banned altogether. using animals is just a horribly cruel entertainment for sadistic people. Its alright if people want to swing bout in trapezes and jump around but there no justice in forcing these poor creatures to do the same things. even the frickin cartoon jumbo is so horrible. Its a good thing that organisations like peta bring incidents like these to our notice to let us know what still goes on in the world.

  • Taia Altiero says:

    So how can we stop this? Let us not use our energy to complain…let us use our energy to find an end to this somehow.

  • diana says:

    animal cruelty is everywhere. You should see how they treat elephants in Thailand it’s horrible. It’s worst in Chiang Mai

  • ava sheridan says:

    What is wrong with people?. There is something so wrong with an Elephant standing on its head..its so revolting unnatural. How do these ”people” monsters sleep at night?. Thats the most depressing st I ever heard 40 years being tortured.. I just cried. Omg I pray for those Elephants and all the other animals Ringling and circuses like Ringling have abused and ruined the lives of. I wanna get my hands on a Ringling employee…and beat 77000 shades of shit out of them.

  • Solange Dornelles says:

    So sad…I hate circus…and can not understand the people who like animal’s show in there…it’s obviously a cruel treatment anytime.

  • Christine Ammon says:

    I can remember vividly the day that I realized the suffering of circus and “carnival” animals. We were at a local fair that is set up annually. There was a grown elephant in a tiny barred “prison” where she could not move exercise or anything. She was on display for passers by. That elephant’s eyes looked so sad and desperate that I cried and left the fairgrounds immediately. I was haunted by those eyes and have boycotted circuses fairs and any other production that uses wild animals in their “shows.” This outrageous treatment of helpless animals needs to end once and for all. March on PETA and keep this message out there.

  • Phyllis Lynch says:

    It must be our mission to help put Ringling Bros. out of business and get these animals freed NOW. Everybody write Congress anyone and everyone write to your representatives. Let’s get this done.

  • Nicole says:

    I hope Ringing gets shut down immediately!

  • Kathy says:

    I am crying right now as I am writing this…how can we end this suffering? I just hate to be a part of the human race sometimes….so embarassing. My heart is literally breaking as I am reading all the articles on this site.

  • vegancoin says:

    “Please keep the animal acts out of the Circus and leave it to the physcial acts of skill by the clowns and various other people acts!” yes indeed one would think that would be commonsense. greed and oppression comes in all shapes and sizes. please don’t expect the average joe to figure this one out by himself. the circus is a soulless creation very cruel totally unnecessary and totally inhumane. i can’t believe real people pay money to go to these things. a very sad commentary on the human condition.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baily have been in exsistence for over 150 years. One of the saddest scenes for me anyway in the movie “Gangs Of New York” was the scene in which a terrified elephant from P.T. Barnum’s exhibit runs down the street during a riot in 1860′s New York City. I didn’t like the idea of a real elephant being used in the movie but it really pulled me up short to think that these animals were left to the rioters after being abandoned by their keepers. The riot in the movie “Gangs Of New York” really did happen the way it was shown in the movie it only stopped when the U.S. Navy fired on the rioters from battleships in New York Harbor.

  • Wendy says:

    As a child I was taken to the Circus once. I was so disturbed by the way the animals were treated when the Circus thought no was looking. I was looking and I saw. This bothered me so much and I just could not understand why. With repeated questions about this “why” to my parents I boldy stated I hated the circus and have ever since. I thought I was an odd child to not to like this Circus. Looking all around everyone was laughing and having a great time! This was so pathetic to me its actually difficult for me to put it into words. I have always been out spoken and mouthy about not liking the Circus and find it so mentally disabling and disturbing to me! This insanity just has to stop and stop now! Please keep the animal acts out of the Circus and leave it to the physcial acts of skill by the clowns and various other people acts!

  • Tina says:

    I cannot understand for the life of me why these people are still around. The Circus is supposedly for the children and I promise you if the children knew how these animals were treated they would protest to “NOT” go. Where is the compassion and how is it even still continuing on? It is so very sad. How can they not understand how this is affecting these animals? Would they treat a pet like this?Thank you Peta for continuing to fight for the animals..

  • NT says:

    What a sad sad picture. Even sadder to know there are people who derive enjoyment from humiliating and enslaving animals.

  • Alice Fraser says:

    Hi why dont we ban animals from circus and make ringling go to jail? From Alice

  • Ravi says:

    Crying shame humans have become calloused hardened and nihilistic in soul and spirit not to realise or to realise and not care that what they do to blessed fellow Gods creation is evilvile and deplorable.So indeedfolks who support circuses and patronize them are guilty by association and are tainted with the same sins and crimes against animal kingdom.I was privileged to see animals at longleat safari parkin UK with my family and see the animals enjoy some freedoms and dignitywhich is far better then zoos so folks can become aware of animals and thier lifestyles and likes and dislikes and we can see thier beauty.One poor Gorilla is on a solitay island but was told that they cant release him in the wild as he is too old but has a TV for company.So one is perplexed and sees the dichotomy of beauty and beast.But shouldnt humans live nature and animal kindom to thie own free state and devices without human interference?isnt that a bigger moral question?

  • Gina says:

    This has got to STOP! It’s barbaric disgusting cruel…words cannot explain.

  • vegancoin says:

    you know when you look a circus elephant in the eyes you can see the suffering the emotion and the sadness. it is really insane it isn’t hard to miss. yes this is very depressing.

  • Tamra says:

    I cannot understand for the life of me why any person would still choose to go to an animal circus!! It is encouraging to know that more and more people are speaking out and starting to take notice. ONE day these beautiful animals will no longer have to perform unnatural and hideous tricks at the hands of and for uneducated humans! I am waiting with baited breath to know what the ruling is on the trial.

  • Brien Comerford says:

    I’m a JudeoChristian who has deep respect for Hindus who treat elephants with profound reverence.