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Elephant Kills Shrine Circus Trainer

Written by PETA | April 9, 2010

A reportedly “startled” elephant kicked a circus trainer or groom so hard that he was thrown 20 feet and died of his injuries at the scene. The attack occurred backstage at a Shrine Circus performance Friday evening in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

The elephant involved is believed to be an African elephant named Dumbo, who was captured in Africa in 1985 and belongs to Terry Frisco. PETA has previously caught Terry’s brother, Tim Frisco, beating elephants behind the scenes.

No word yet on whether circus mouthpieces are attempting to claim that the elephant was “playing” with the trainer, but if a “startled” elephant can be this dangerous, imagine the damage that a really angry elephant can inflict. It makes the video that we told you about last week—in which a trainer with the Liebel Family Circus holds a toddler in one hand as she uses a bullhook in the other to jab an elephant—all the more harrowing.

This isn’t the first time that an elephant has lethally lashed out at the guy wielding the bullhook, and it almost certainly won’t be the last. Circuses rely on an abusive training regimen that starts with beatings and intimidation from the time that elephants are still babies and doesn’t stop until they’ve performed their last headstand. Is it any wonder that some of these gentle giants eventually get fed up and fight back?

PETA has been trying to convince the Shriners to stop using animal circuses as fundraisers for years to no avail, despite the fact that their circuses are connected to a growing list of dangerous and deadly incidents involving wild animals. Last year, two elephants performing at the Murat Shrine Circus in Indianapolis, Indiana, knocked down a mobile staircase during elephant rides, resulting in a dozen children being treated by paramedics. In 2005, a trainer was stomped to death by an elephant used in a Shrine Circus in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 2002 and again in 2003, elephants bolted from the Shrine Circus tents and went on rampages in Wisconsin and Michigan, respectively. It’s sad to think that this tragic list of deaths and injuries has failed to make the Shriners come to their senses.

Update: Recent news reports are claiming that Dumbo was trying to protect the groomer whom she stomped to death. But this happens every time someone is bludgeoned or stomped to death by an elephant or an orca: Those who profit from keeping the animals miserably bound in chains or confined to small pools always say that the animal was playing or trying to protect the person. The public should stand up and say, “Enough! We are not that gullible!” These animals are extremely intelligent. They know when to be gentle, and they know that you don’t protect or play with human beings by smashing them into the ground or the bottom of the pool. After a lifetime of being told, “Do this, do that,” being hurt with electric prods and bullhooks, and having their food withheld unless they stand on their head or tail, they crack.

Commenting is closed.
  • Koko-HaWah says:

    I must know, with animal cruelty laws in place in America and elsewhere, WHO is dropping the ball on prosecuting KNOWN animal abusers??? Put some money into legal action!!!

  • seo says:

    I really liked your blog.Thanks Again. Want more.

  • social says:

    Very informative blog.Much thanks again. Awesome.

  • Mary Ann says:

    Does anyone know where Dumbo is Presently? Could we get a court order to remove her so that this continual torture that she endures will end.I looked her up on the registry but it only saids in the United States.

  • Ana says:

    The message is simple KEEP ANIMALS FREE

  • jo says:

    Morgan admits to contributing and participating in in the degradation humiliation and abuse of these gentle giants by attending their circus events and riding the elephants for over 10 years!!!! Wow guess you sleep well at night kid??? My daughter is a member of this site and has never and will never attend any event such as this circus and enjoys events such as cirque du soliel instead. Thank you to all the good people out there who refuse to go to an animal circus.

  • tiziana says:

    SHAME!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tiziana italia

  • Frank says:

    Good. Elephants and other abused Circus Animals should fight back themselves. This news makes me feel good.

  • karlos says:

    When someone try to move with wild animals they know about the risks. Poor elephant. Sorry for the family for this guy but in this time this day is from the haunted. The PETA Team need to known what is happen with this elephant.

  • Rosa Lee says:

    Oh my gosh. Poor elephant. I mean WHAT KIND OF PERSON DOES THAT???!!! Personally no offense I don’t feel bad for the trainer AT ALL. I hope that people in those dumb circuses know what they’re doing. This could happen to any of them and I know that as long as they keep abusing these poor animals there’s always going to be a risk. Not that I care of course.

  • Nat says:

    Good job Dumbo !!!! But is Dumbo okay ?? Those worthless little sh!ts didn’t hurt her did they ?? I hate how people murder and torture millions of animals every day then one animal kills a human and it’s an absolute “tragedy” and “loss.” Fcking hypocritical bastards . . .

  • Paige says:

    I laughed really hard when I found out that the trainer actually died. If I could congradulate the elephant I would he beat his torementor

  • ocean17 says:

    that poor elephant. what a tragedy. using animals as unpaid circus performers needs to stop.

  • Kimberly says:

    Good job Dumbo. I wish you would have taken out a few more.

  • giovanna says:

    shame!!!!!!!!!!!go elefante giovanna italia

  • Amanda says:

    I totally agree with the people who were offended by some poster’s “I laughed that she died” etc. Really you people are truly sick. Regarding the animal I think about the elephants in the wild and the rhinos and how they are being slaughtered just for their ivory. What is the solution? Several people said “wild animals belong in the wild”. The problem is they aren’t safe in the “wild” anymore and they aren’t safe in sanctuaries either and that is truly tragic. I’m afraid that the way things are going there will be no elephants tigers rhinos and possibly sharks anywhere other than in zoos circuses aquatic parks etc. unless a solution can be found that will adequately protect them.

  • Sandra Hooper says:

    You are surprised that animals especially elephants after all the years of abusewould kill someone what person or animal wouldn’t want revenge. How can you blame these poor animals

  • Charlie Lammers says:

    What’s really amazing is that handlers of exotic animals are not killed or injured more often. When it does happen and I hear of it I can only think they get exactly what they deserve and at least there will one less animal abuser to worry about.

  • Sarah says:

    WAY TO GO. The people who “abuse” these animals deserve to die. And I REALLY HOPE AUTHORITIES ARE SMART ENOUGH TO NOT put the elephant down

  • Melissa says:

    More power too the animals! They were never ment to be “trained”! If you want something to train go adopot a dog!

  • Tbone says:

    What the hell do people expect? Are all these sad and illused animals supposed to just take every bit of abuse that’s doled out to them by human ghouls and never lash out? Please. All of you participating in elephant rides and giving animalusing circuses and marine parks your money are guilty too. I hope with all my heart that Dumbo goes to live in a wonderful sanctuary. And that the Shriners drown in their own sht.

  • GARCIA says:


  • Rachel says:

    Yayyyyy! I am soooo happy for the elephant!! Good for him!!!! I dont feel bad one bit for the “trainer”!!!!!!!

  • Judith says:

    Boliva yes Boliva is the first country in the world to bar any animal from being used in a circus which they consider abusive behavior.

  • Jay Pominville says:

    Good for the elephant. How cruel and unfeeling are these people who can treat animals this way? And how ridiculous and ignorant are those who watch this and feel no horror for the way the animals are treated? There is a lot wrong with a society where people don’t have feelings for all of Gods creatures. They feel pain and fright just like you and I and for those of you who care more about the abusers than the poor animal being abused than you have no heart or soul. What do you expect when a person is tormenting an animal? You expect that that animal should just take it and never fight back? What is wrong with you? Kudos to the animals that do finally fight back and defend themselves against the onslaught of cruelty unmasked on them. I think these poor animals are a lot more humane than their human tormentors. What kind of sick society allows this and worse……..sees nothing wrong with it?

  • Rose says:

    It isunfortunate that the groomer died. I think most people who shouted hooray for that don’t actually wish for someone to die. They’re just glad to see some justice for the animal. Unfortunately the animal often pays for this in the end. I hope this elephant doesn’t pay for this with his life. I agree that he should go to a santuary where he can live out his life with other elephants. It would be nice if animal welfare got more attention on the news. Wehear everyday about the disgusting things people do to each other and how the perpetrators are brought to justice. When I hear or see these cases on the news or newpaper it’s usually a little blurb crammed in somewhere. And I almost never hear that those who inflicted the abuse have had to pay for it.

  • Yasmine says:

    To Grant. Well it’s shameful to laugh at someone’s death just as shameful as laughing at a harmless animal being hooked up by the leg and have its throat slashed open. Shame on you. Fine the trainer may have done wrong upon a defensless creature and got what he deserved but to laugh at someone’s death is gruesome in every way whether the person was good or bad. It makes you a horrible human being. And I say this for all those who proudly said about their laughters at the trainer’s death. That said this event just prooves one thing animals are intelligent in their own right and have their own and purposeful reasons to use it than to use it for silly human purposes and that includes entertainment.

  • Nils Weng says:

    Thank god that finally one animal managed to fight back! If this continues and more rapidly I am hoping this animal torture will end!

  • Lana says:

    We are the voice for the voiceless. She spoke but he didnt listen abused her. I live in Africa interesting that elephants communicate at a decible we cant hear. Approaching herds 30 kms away are told there is enough food or not to move on. I may sound heartless but he deserved to die she didnt.

  • Pressiana says:

    This “trainer” got what he deserved

  • Pooch says:

    To Christine Yes it is a great thing the man died! You blame the elephant whose been mistreated his entire life and forced to do tricks a normal elephant would never do just for some entertainment and money? Go watch American Wrestling if you want entertainment at least who ever does it its their free choice to perform the show! Or you’d rather blame the circus for playing with wild animals lives and all the people who work for the circus. You make it such a big deal because he’s just a human animals are even more important than humans. The world and animals can easily live without humans as it has done for 100’s of years before us but humans wont survive without animals. You’re so full of pride bout’ your species that it doesn’t even let you see whose really to blame! Actually we need more of these accidents on a daily basis animals killing humans so maybe once and for all circuses stop using animals purely for peoples joy and income. And who ever said that the animals are taken good care of.. be realistic… watch the undercover vids first than comment.

  • milana says:

    WAY TO GO DUMBO ! Keep fighting back and get your family to do the same. This cruelty to you and yours needs to be stopped somehow. I think you have found the way.

  • Jose Waechter says:

    Good riddance of rotten garbage. People like the Frisco brothers do not deserve to live. To hell with them let them rot there.

  • Stephanie says:

    YAY! I am really happy to see that some animals are fighting back. If they all did at the same time they could kill all the mean ones! D

  • christine says:

    what else is there to say? Dumbo says it all. Just a pity dogs won’t back when abused. Come on doggies join the fight with eles!