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

Baby Barack Suffering From Deadly Virus: PETA Files Complaint With USDA

Written by PETA | February 5, 2010
elephantcenter / CC
Baby Barack

Barack, the baby Asian elephant, wasn’t even 1 year old when he made his Ringling “debut” last month. Now Barack has been removed from traveling with the circus, and PETA has confirmed that he has contracted a herpes virus infection that may cost him his life. Death from the herpes virus usually occurs within seven days after an acute onset of symptoms that include lethargy, swelling of the head and limbs, and a blue discoloration of the tongue. This frightening disease typically affects elephants under 10 years of age and has an 80 percent mortality rate among captive, Asian elephants.

Stress may be a factor in the development of this virus, which has killed 20 percent of captive-born Asian elephant calves in North American facilities since 2000. Putting Barack on the road to perform in the circus at such a tender age was surely a stressful experience, and we’re asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate and, if appropriate, to pursue charges if the agency determines that Ringling violated regulations for handling or veterinary care.

Prior to performances, Barack was led around by rope restraints on his trunk and legs, and during performances he was forced to climb a pedestal while surrounded by trainers carrying bullhooks—weapons resembling fireplace pokers that are used for striking, stabbing, hooking, prodding, and intimidating elephants. Before the circus took Barack off the road, he reportedly became spooked and trampled his trainer, who has been seen in recent weeks wearing a brace on his right leg, presumably as a result of injuries he sustained when Barack ran amok.

If Barack survives the herpes virus, he doesn’t have much to look forward to. When he’s around 18 months of age, he will likely be pulled away from his mother and subjected to violent training sessions, as depicted in our recent exposé. These fear-based and abusive training methods have contributed to the deaths of two baby elephants: One fled his bullhook-wielding trainer and drowned in a pond, and the other broke both hind legs after falling off a training pedestal. Other baby elephants have also died at Ringling.

Speak up for Barack and all the other baby elephants abused by Ringling by contacting the USDA and asking the agency to investigate.

Written by Logan Scherer

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  • John J says:

    Carla Its the elephant in the corner people are missing the big picture. Stop all the nonsense about circus folk and stop judging humans. Humans are imperfect and make mistakes but you must support them first. A human life is worth so much more than this elephant.

  • Carla says:

    That’s not the point John J.

  • John J says:

    TB is not uncommon in these animals and “colds” are minor illness.

  • Ann says:

    This cruelty is caused by those that go to any circus that features animals of any kind. If you don’t go then perhaps the info will sink in that cruelty is not appreciated in any form.

  • Jessica says:

    My mom said it best “who goes to the circus and watches tortured animals for fun?” It’s ridiculous!

  • Sam says:

    you know how many times in circuses there are or used to be freak shows? The biggest freaks of all more than any other poor soul with some genetic mutation ARE in the circus just not in the proper place. They’re torturing elephants instead of their proper place in iron cages in the center of the ring

  • emma says:

    the only way to stop this is that enough people write to the USDA!!! i’m writing now…

  • emma says:

    its not bad enough that animals are being used for this but baby elephants? jesus! does anyone in the circus have a heart???

  • Saucy says:

    How wretched how wrong. I hope the president or the first lady will step up to the plate now. What kind of a man puts a bullhook in a baby elephant?

  • ocean17 says:

    yeah that cutsie factor combined with the outrageous cruelty makes no sense at all. anyone that has looked into the eyes of a circus elephant can see the suffering the fear the isolation. this cruelty must be stopped.

  • Hayley says:

    This pisses me off. What are these people thinking? I always wonder how these people sleep at night but then I remember they probably think this treatment of animals is okay and this is how you are supposed to train animals. The circus is truly a bunch of freaks. If you think the animals get treated poorly it’s because these people who are employed by the circus have horrible criminal records. I know there are children who travel with the circus and I fear for their lives as well as the lives of the animals. The circus is full of criminals. Stay away. People who want to learn about animals should go pick up these great things called books. Or go travel to the animals natural home and habitat and observe them. We as a human species are horrible. God must be shaking his head in severe disappointment in us.

  • Tricia says:

    This is heartbreaking and should be illegal. These circuses just get worse and worse. Years ago they never used babies. The “people” involved in this will rot in hell.

  • Rad_Rosa89 says:

    Horrible horrible… Poor elephant..

  • Andre Inglis says:

    The circus seems to be a great place for ruining the lives of animals and getting away with it. It’s obvious that Baby Barack was just object of profit and now that he is ‘useless’ who knows what might happen to him. Certainly they would likely give the ‘problem’ away. So typical of circuses.

  • John says:

    Many Ringling elephants has TB tuberculosis Ringling Brothers has them out there around children a health disaster. httpwww.truthout.orgarticlelesliegriffiththeelephantroom This is what our authorities have been allowing with this criminal company. Corrupt politicians and health official and judges have been enabling this.

  • Austin says:

    Thinking of you baby Barack sending you my warm energy and a big hug.

  • Susan T says:

    Oh this just cuts my heart like a million razor blades. How miserably cruel and misguided. This sweet baby is taken from his mother suffers the brutal training that all infant elephants undergo is made to go on parade and then he contracts a potentially fatal virus. How do all you circusgoers feel now? Are you happy? Are you proud? You heartless bags of youknowwhat! YOU and your ilk are responsible for Barack’s condition. If he dies he dies with YOUR BLOOD ON HIS TRUNK! KNOW THIS RINGLINGYOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED AND I’M COUNTING!