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Ailing Elephants Forced to Perform

Written by PETA | September 22, 2010

Imagine having a debilitating medical condition, suffering from aching joints and throbbing feet, and still having to walk every day to work, where 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 hit you with something like a fireplace poker or stick the pointy end under your chin and drag you around. When you weren’t working, you’d live in chains, and you wouldn’t even be given medication for pain.

That’s pretty much what life is like for Karen, Nicole, Bonnie, and Minyak—four elephants who are shunted from town to town by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus:


According to an independent veterinarian who examined the elephants as well as an elephant expert who observed the elephants as they limped out of boxcars and walked stiffly to the arena while the circus was in Sacramento, these four elephants are suffering from foot disorders and lameness consistent with arthritis—a painful condition that can be made worse by the awkward contortions of circus tricks and “life” on the road. Yet despite the vet’s recommendation that the elephants be excluded from performing certain routines, Ringling is going right ahead, forcing these hurting girls to strain their muscles and joints by doing tricks such as hind-leg stands.

Elephants are meant to move about—roaming for miles over grass and soft terrain and engaging in activities that come naturally to them—not to stand on urine- and feces-covered cement for hours on end or to be beaten and forced to walk across asphalt streets from the circus train to an arena.

Please join us in asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to immediately seize these ailing elephants before it’s too late: Foot disorders and arthritis are the leading causes of euthanasia in captive elephants.

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

Commenting is closed.
  • Juanita says:

    This is not a game nor the fun for a normal people I know that they hurt to animals special to the elephants special to the babies, please stop this terrible action and cruelty to the living being. the elephants are belong to the amazons, let live them in peace.

  • Susan says:

    This is so very sad. I would like to know how people are to contact the USDA or whoever else can possible stop this. We need an email address posted. Also, I know if you go to Care2, you can start petitions. They will be signed by many many people. But someone please post an email. Thank you. This is sickening. Ringling Brothers must start caring properly for these loving, sensitive creatures or else face massive fines.

  • Jim Maschek says:

    This is real bad, I can not take seeing this, this is way I will never go to these places where they exploite animals for our entertainment. WE NEED TO PUT A STOP TO THIS!!!

  • Alex Poh says:

    I want to help these poor animals. How can i help? At the moment i only pray for them..

  • minna says:

    I’m so tired of seeing these elephant stories. I love elephants. They are beautiful creatures that should be respected. There are 2 of them at the Los Angeles Fair as we speak (through 10/1/10) giving rides to children, in circles, on the hot pavement. It makes me cry every time i walk by. 🙁

  • Carol Frayne says:

    It is as painful for these elephants to perform in unnatural positions as their joint deteriorate as it is any human being. Please show these long suffering elephants your compassion and stop them from performing before something really serious happens like an elephant stampede forcing someone to have to shoot them. Animals are no different in their suffering than we are and there are many human beings with arthritis who would like to also end their own suffering because of it. Please allow these elephants the dignity they have to be retired to a safe and comfortable place where they can be looked after as they deserve to be.

  • jacquelyn says:

    The cruel and disgusting treating of these and other elephants by Ringling circus needs to be stopped. The treatment of the animals is the reason I will never go to a circus. Please help these elephants receive a better life.

  • Zoe says:

    I hate ringling brothers and all circuses that use animals. It sickens me.

  • Alexandra says:

    I email the USDA (and yes, I agree, they are a joke) everyday about these elephants. If all of us that support PETA email the USDA everyday, then I’m sure something will change. Or at least email, or call, the cities that are hosting the circus everyday. Please everyone, let’s email the USDA EVERYDAY until these beautiful animals are living happily in a sanctuary. We won’t settle for anything less!!!

  • Cate Shores says:

    This truly breaks my heart- so Very sad! I believe animals are God’s creation- they will join Him in heaven! This just isn’t right, precious elephants, All animals not cared for with humans love and attention. Releasing animals that are sick shouldn’t happen. They need to be treated and then taken to an animal refuge in Acton, CA. A place called Shambala. It is run by former actor, Tippy Hedron. Give her a call! Thank you!!!!

  • Amelia says:

    Please give these elephants, and all circus animals for that matter, the dignity and respect they deserve. They were not put on this planet to entertain us nor were they put here for us to abuse, mistreat, torture into performing for us. Please seize them before they are so crippled they must be put down. And then put a stop to circuses obtaining any more animals!!

  • Ellie says:

    Yet another sad saga for animals with no voice/no choice and no advocates who can/will take the necessary steps to remove these creatures from the hands of their tormenters. The USDA is one sad state of affairs. They cannot even regulate/protect animals so mercilessly abused in factory farms and enforce regulations/best practices, so why on earth would we ask them to do something they clearly cannot and will not do? These elephants need rescuing NOW. Not following months and months of red tape with no proactive help for the elephants. Makes no sense to bombard the USDA, telling them what they already know. ACTION is the only thing which can spare these elephants further torture/cruelty. But I’ve a feeling the USDA is going to do absolutely nothing. Why? Because they are not empowered to do so. Add to that the corruption within the USDA and you get the picture. Relying on the USDA, is akin to relying on the fox to watch the hen house. Pressure must be brought to bear upon Congress to empower the USDA and sadly, also appoint yet another committee to ensure that inspectors actually do their jobs and take action on behalf of animals as well as humans, when action is required. Until such time as Congress takes USDA reform seriously, not much can or will change… Ellie

  • Hannah says:

    Please… This is unbelievable…!

  • Sharig says:

    This is wrong. These elephants have absolutly no say in the matter. These are amazing creaters, and organizations take advantage of them. They deserve to live the way they were meant to live. In the wild, not spending their days entertaining humans this way. They cannot say for themselves, it is our job to look out for them. People these days are so selfish. Please let these poor animals live the way they were meant to live. Let them be free.

  • Terri says:

    Seize these elephants immediately. Stop hurting them. Let them live in peace!

  • Rhonda Whitney says:

    I am writing on behalf of four who can not speak for themselves. Karen, Nicole, Bonnie and Minyak are four female elephants who are suffering because of a disease and are forced to perform in a circus. Advise from a medical expert has been ignored and these four beautiful animals are tortured into performing. Please consider the welfare of these special animals. If your favorite grandma and aunts were in the same position, wouldn’t you (USDA) do something on their behalf?

  • Raqualrachelle says:

    I wish there was a way to make fairs stop using elephants for rides…I went to a fair 2 days ago and i cant believe people still do this…these poor animals :(((((

  • Carlos says:

    This is so sad. How can ‘decent’ human beings treat their fellow organisms like this? I mean it’s JUST slavery-NO difference.

  • Sandy Bartholomew says:

    What is wrong with people. Some just don’t have a heart anymore and no compassion. So many people are so selfish. Life is all about them and what they can gain and they do not care what animal or person they hurt to get whatever they need or want. Hell is going to be full of wicked and evil people who are so heartless. Shame on you.

  • farah says:

    I hate ringling brothers and all circuses that use animals.

  • dcschell14 says:

    It is so upsetting to see animals treated in such a disrespectful way. Please retire these poor animals and let them spend the rest of their life in a habitat suitable to meet their needs. I am very against animal acts in the circus and I hope that people will see this and stop attending. Breaks my heart.

  • Brandi says:

    My daughter is 9 and she’s already preparing to address her school Principal about not handing out Circus tickets when they come through NC in the spring – it makes us sick how these noble creatures are forced to do tricks, live in filth and suffer constant abuse. People need to open their eyes!

  • Irene Leggett says:

    Please retire these poor elephants to a more compassionate lifestyle. I live in the UK and we have a permanent circus in our seaside town with no animal acts in it at all and its already well attended so animals are not always necessary for entertainment.

  • Nadine says:

    Too bad the USDA sits back in a reclining while animals are being neglected, abused and destroyed. They are a joke to me. It’s up to organizations like PETA to make a difference.

  • Kim says:

    Ringling Bros, sucks!! Never have and never will attend a cruel circus. I love elephants and it makes me sick how they treat these beatiful and majestic creatures. We are supposed to be the gaurdians of animals. Not the ones that torture and confine animals. Please release them to an animal santctuary already!!!!

  • Rita Ross says:

    I respecfully ask the USDA to seize these 4 elephants to prepare them for life in a sanctuary. It is bitter cruel to force them to continue this brutal life. The audience has other ways to be entertained.