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Elephant Fights Back

Written by PETA | July 22, 2010

Bullhooks are heavy batons with a sharp metal hook and point on the end. If someone routinely smacked you with one, wouldn’t you eventually fight back? Video footage taken at the Toledo Zoo shows that a young elephant named Louie did just that: He charged his bullhook-wielding keeper, leaving him hospitalized with serious injuries. In the video, Louie is shown backing away when he sees keeper Don RedFox approaching him with a bullhook. Louie then turns around and charges at RedFox after RedFox jabs him with the implement.



The Toledo Zoo still uses the archaic free-contact elephant-handling system. In free contact, elephants are dominated and punished with force, and that puts keepers at constant risk. The zoo’s use of the free-contact system has previously been discussed in Toledo. The zoo failed to act on a July 8, 2005, “Lucas County Commissioners Special Citizens Task Force for the Zoo Final Report” that confirmed that keepers have been injured under the current free-contact system. Now we are asking the zoo’s board of directors to allow us to bring in a team of elephant experts who can train zoo staff to eliminate the use of bullhooks and transition to a protected-contact system, which more than half the accredited zoos in the country already use.

For the elephants’ well-being and for the safety of zoo employees, please join us in asking the Toledo Zoo to eliminate cruel and outdated circus-style handling.

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

Commenting is closed.
  • Anon says:

    Thanks Eddy! it wasn’t Carla it was me btw I agree 100 with you and hope all these cowardly animal abusers get what they deserve!!

  • John says:

    Please do your research before jumping to conclusions. There are many elephant handlers who gently and carefully manage the elephants in their care using these instruments. In the right hands and with the right training they never do any harm. Proper training and knowledge of elephant behavior would have prevented this awful situation. The injured handler clearly demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of proper elephant handling methods. Don’t blame the tool when the person is obviously at fault.

  • Mr. Fruit says:

    Do you know whats really sad about this story? If you follow the link to the video that PETA provides in the article they ramble on about stuff like how “they dont know why he attacked” and then they also cant make up their mind whether it is an attack or an “encounter”. They say he was just bringing a bag of fruit into the room. They also said they released the video so people could see that he “did nothing to provoke the elephant”. HAHA! Let me tell you what really went down. He decides he is all tough so he goes waltzing into the building alone even though it is apparently against company policy. He decides he is going to beat this elephant to make it submissive. I mean after all it is a zoo right? Oh but wait he forgot his bullhook! So he goes back to get his bullhook comes back in this is where the video starts. Notice they conveniently left out the beginning where he supposedly went in to “bring fruit”? and thats when we see the abused elephant backing away in fear. The guy comes at Louie stabs him in the side with the bullhook and thats when Louie starts his attack. I don’t know why the article on their site tries to make the zoo seem ignorant on the issue and that they had to bring in oh so many “experts” to determine why this happened. Are you kidding? They know damn well why it happened! Whats even sadder is the fact that the articlecomments mention how the bullhook is just used to “guide” and “control” the animal. Yeah right that shit might fly for the average citizen but thanks to PETA and the leaked Ringling Bros photos we know damn well what they really do to these animals and what they use the bullhook for! Meg. No the elephant in the photo is smaller than Louie. It appears it is one of the leaked photos PETA has provided in the past from people like Ringling Bros.

  • Crystal says:

    I feel bad for the trainer but the way Louie backs away and puts his back to trainer like any submissive and beaten down animal will do when he is approached by his abuser tells the whole story. If places like the Toledo Zoo are going to continue to keep these intelligent animals in a cage they need to make sure that both the animal and the trainers and people that care for them are safe. Louie was not safe.

  • James says:

    The trainer initially entered the with treats for Louie who challenged and forced him to leave the enclosure. This video shows the trainer entering the stall a second time challenging the elephant with a bullhook. The elephant was clearly communicating displeasure from the first interaction. Such a sad and avoidable situation. Another case in point for the abolition of keeping wild animals captive under the guise of “education” and “entertainment”.

  • anon says:

    does it make me heartless for being completely captivated and loving every second of watching animals fight backcause physical harm to humans? i mean seriously for every 10 million animals humans cause harm to ONE animal every so often gets a chance to fight back. I just can’t help but cheer them on.

  • Carla* says:

    What eles do we think he should have done?? Louie did what he had to do to protect himself and he was being lenient may I add!! You don’t look so “big” wielding that primitive device after all hey Don?? May I suggest a career change maybe one that doesn’t involve wild animals in captivity??

  • Ralph says:

    Good for the elephant fighting back… BUT you have a photo with the person using the bullhook backward. The person is using it properly.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    Is Louie the baby in the photo? I can’t view videos on my computer it’s too slow. The baby in the photo looks too small to fight back unfortunately.

  • Saucy says:

    Good for Louie. He did the right thing. No one has the right to hit you with a bullhook Louie. I hope you get transfered to a sanctuary and away from all bullhook weilding MORONS.

  • Kristel says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I live near Detroit and Toledo and many people I know think the Toledo Zoo is a good place to go to. I have always dissagreed since their habitats are way too cramped and the freeway is split up one half on one side of the highway and the other half on the other side. The animals are right in the middle of the city.. which is just horrible. I’ve never liked this zoo but this had brought it to a new level. I will now educate friends who wish to go to the zoo and tell them just how cruel it is. Once again thanks PETA for educating us all! D