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‘The Onion’ Posts a Brilliant Circus Smack-Down

Written by PETA | June 7, 2010

Looks like somebody over at The Onion has been surfing the PETA Files. Catch the satirical newspaper’s spot-on skewering of elephant acts, with descriptions of a “hooked rod,” “cramped, feces-covered enclosure,” and “constant beatings.” They even picked up on the fact that the only male elephants used in circuses are youngsters, because once they reach adolescence, they become too aggressive to be controlled—despite the constant threat of being whacked with a bullhook (or, perhaps, because of it).

As usual, The Onion‘s parody so closely parallels reality that it can bring tears of laughter and sorrow. Take this gem:

“Look, they’re dancing,” said 5-year-old Jonah Meeks, mistaking the elephants’ constant swaying for something that wasn’t a maladaptive behavior caused by serious psychological trauma. “I can dance like an elephant, too. Look at me!”


Amy n Rob / CC by 2.0


The folks at The Onion obviously do their research, but is it possible that they are also psychic? Their circus send-up was published just days before peta2 launched its brand new “Elephants Never Forget” campaign today. Coincidence?

Written by Alisa Mullins

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  • Toby says:

    Someone at the Onion either heard it from the horse’s mouth or a friend of a friend or the Onion simply has a similar agenda indeed researchers have been surfing the PETA site. If that was a joke about psychics then nevermind! Ha! I get it if it was because there is no evidence of psychic abilities existing. Ha ha!

  • Toby says:


  • Melissa says:

    What do I do if I cannot afford to take my dog to the vet? I’m I forced to kill him? I feel so horrible for him.

  • Saucy says:

    EVERYONE runs from a Bull Elephant!

  • Kristina says:

    Awesome! I always loved The Onion’s humor although they have ridiculed PETA in the past with some of their articles and a video about PETA’s treatment of women . Nonetheless it’s good that they understand the abuse that elephants at the circus go through and that they’re spreading the word. Hopefully this will inspire Onion followers to look deeper into this issue.