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No, These Elephants Aren’t Dancing

Written by Jennifer O'Connor | August 26, 2014

A video of two abused elephants, Viola and Kelly, swaying repetitively while on display at the Circus World Museum is being spun as “dancing.” But these elephants aren’t dancing—they’re almost certainly exhibiting symptoms of “zoochosis,” a captivity-induced mental illness.

Elephants such as Viola and Kelly are kept chained almost constantly when they’re not performing for the circus, live in fear of being stabbed with bullhooks, and are denied everything that’s natural and important to them—and many of them eventually develop this neurotic behavior.

Elephants are highly intelligent and social animals who thrive in the company of their extended families. Births are joyous celebrations, and the deaths of loved ones are mourned. Youngsters are nurtured by everyone: Aunts babysit, grandmothers mentor, and siblings roughhouse and play with one another. Elephants experience the same joys and sorrows that we do. Experts note that this repetitive, obsessive behavior is never seen in wild elephants.

With no joy or comfort and nothing to do, Viola and Kelly, both of whom have suffered for years in the notoriously abusive Carson & Barnes Circus, sway in an effort to cope with their profound deprivation. Dancing is the last thing on their minds.

What You Can Do

Please urge the Circus World Museum Foundation’s board of directors to end its cruel elephant acts at Circus World, and share the short video “Circuses in 60 Seconds” with everyone you know.

Commenting is closed.
  • Lois v ringer says:

    I have learned so much through PETA. Please continue with all your missions.

  • Aura Elena Zambrano says:

    Enseñen a los niños los animales en su hábitat natural y demuestren la inteligencia que nos coloca sobre las demás especies. Cómo sería la vida de los humanos si vivieran encerrados en jaulas para que otros se distraigan? Podríamos hacer jaulas para los blancos, blancos con cabello negro, rubios, pelirrojos, morenos, negros, asiáticos. Hay una gran variedad en la raza humana. Qué tal que a un loco se le ocurra hacer lo mismo que hoy hacemos con los animales que no pueden hablar, protestar, defenderse y atacar a quienes los someten? El ser humano es muy creativo a la hora de crear las peores formas para obtener ganancia.

  • April Nava says:

    I feel it shocking and inhumane the way we treat animals.especially in laboratory this and animal is inhumane to kill animals for their fur. I didn’t used to sing so until I started watching on Facebook.

  • Michelle Kirkup says:

    This animal abuse should be against the law.

  • Anonymous says:

    Humans are changing their thoughts about compassion towards other people, towards the care and protection of animals, natural resources of the world, and the environment. The time in human history has come to evaluate what purpose is really being served by taking animals from the habitat they evolved into as best suited for their bodies, the families that cared and nutured them and – their neighborhoods, to be caged and suffer emotional and physical cruelty – not because we are cruel, but because we are not compassionate about animals as loving caring beings. When time and time again, animals show us they have more compassion than humans are willing to give (although I know we are able). We don’t have to wait to go to a zoo or an aquarium to experience magnificent animals. We travel to see them, we watch them on TV in their natural habitats without harming them. Time has come to change our thoughts about zoos, circuses and aquariums.

  • Doris Keyes says:

    Free the animals and jail the abusers

  • JENNY says:


  • carol meyer says:

    disgustingly ignorant behavior on the part of “humans” i feel so terribly outraged for these helpless animals at the mercy of unscrupulous people!

  • Tsulin Tong says:

    How tragic for these beautiful animals to be misunderstood. Thank you PETA for your clarification of what is going on with them.

  • Miriam Noemi Ivaldi says:

    Los elefantes no bailan , no saben nada de bailes, eso es un invento humano para engañar a las personas. Mientras las personas disfrutan, ellos sufren en silencio

  • Laura Briskman-Ferguson says:

    Life for these elephants and many, many others truly is
    ‘hell on earth.’ It’s pitiful that we consider this behavior “okay.”

  • Linda D. says:

    Sad to see. Do the right thing and let them go.

  • Sally says:

    We have surely moved on from such primitive form of cruelty disguised as entertainment… Understand these animals how they live naturally and you’ll understand how abusive this is.

  • Kathleen Colley says:

    Animals only sway or pace when they’re severely distressed. These places that keep animals in cages, pits and other ghastly conditions need to be closed down!

  • Dana Stilwell says:

    I am always appalled by the insensitivity that people display toward each other and other living beings. I doubt many elephants that are living in their natural habitats frequent violin recitals. I am much more inclined to enjoy viewing elephants in their natural habitat enjoying the sounds of nature, that they so need and love.

  • I don’t think any animal should be used in fairs and circuses! I do not go to circuses because of the treatment of animal but I do attend my local fair. It breaks my heart to know that they are giving animal rides at the fair! I try not to go around the area where the animals are! I wish they all could be free, living in their own habitat! Please stay on top of this to end animal abuse.

  • Patricia says:

    I have come to the conclusion that animals are by far smarter than people.

  • E. Jones says:

    Vile. It’s degrading to the elephants and the fools who watch it.

  • Debbie Mahoney says:

    That’s so sad to see! 🙁 free all captive animals ban circuses

  • Shannon Scott says:

    This has to stop. You have no right to do this to gods creations. You will be punished. I and everyone I know will never come to any circus

  • Doreen Sevilla says:

    People should not go to circuses so that it would finally stop… this is the only way for the animals being used to be finally free

  • Kellie johnson says:

    This is greed not entertainment.

  • Angelina Miranda says:

    Circuses should be banned everywhere…

  • Revoke their license to keep animals and fine them for their treatment of all their animals.

  • Rita says:

    Stop the abuse and let the elephants go free. And roam the lands they supost to. We don’t want to see them in a carnival or circus

  • Alisha Price says:

    Free the animals!!

  • Ban the zoos and circuses and give the elephants back their freedom and lives

  • These monsters are sick in the head. This is not natural for wildlife or any animals. All greed.

  • Natasha Bate says:

    Wild animals need to be wild.

  • Kathleen Kennedy says: