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Ringling Unloads Old, Ailing Elephants

Written by PETA | June 9, 2011

Zina and Jewel, two aging elephants who have spent nearly their entire lives with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (Jewel since 1954 and Zina since 1972), have been “donated” by the circus to the Little Rock Zoo. Some “retirement”: The Little Rock Zoo still uses the cruel and archaic free-contact system to control elephants, which means that Zina and Jewel have not escaped the bullhooks and chains.

In testimony during a trial to answer charges that Ringling’s elephant handling practices violated the federal Endangered Species Act, the circus’s general manager admitted Zina and Jewel (and five other elephants) were all chained by two legs in a concrete barn at Ringling’s Florida breeding and “retirement” center for 16 hours a day. Another witness testified that he had to cover more than 20 oozing wounds with Wonder Dust (a gray powder used to camouflage wounds) after Zina was beaten with a bullhook.

Considering the long hours spent chained on hard concrete floors, it’s no wonder that Jewel is suffering from severe arthritis. Many of the elephants used by Ringling have joint problems, like Sara, who is far younger than Jewel but already suffering from painful lameness, which will likely lead to arthritis as she ages.

Ringling raked in millions of dollars over the decades that it hauled these elephants around the country, but instead of retiring them to a sanctuary, the circus “rewarded” them by dumping them at a zoo for more years of exploitation.

Please never buy a ticket to the circus, and ask the Little Rock Zoo to stop using bullhooks and chains on elephants.

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

Commenting is closed.
  • Traci says:

    What is wrong with people?  Sick & demented I think.  Stop chaining these amazing animals up and let them live out the rest of their days with dignity!  

    How would YOU feel being chained up?  THINK.

  • Wendy says:

    This is horrific and wrong on so many levels! What a disgusting thing to do to such a beautiful creature of God! I hope people boycott cicuses like this!

  • Ashia Tattoli says:

    Please be humane and stop this needless suffering of these beautiful peaceful creatures!

  • R. Ketchuck says:

    I hate it for the poor elephants. Why won’t this abuse stop? It depresses me knowing the life span of elephants and knowing that they have to endure this pain every day of their life. STOP the abuse, PLEASE.

  • Summer says:

    Make sure you send that zoo/prison am email – I did. These animals need to go to a sanctuary to live out their lives where there are kind people who understand their needs. Bullhooks? Do they use these on bulls. Poor bulls. I work with rescued horses. Whips are never needed nor used. Kindness can provide you with all you need to handle large animals – I know I do it all the time with amazing results. Go Peta!

  • Kahnie says:

    THIS IS HORRIFIC! How would you like a bullhook used on you??? There has got to be a more HUMANE way to deal with this! PLEASE for the LOVE OF GOD… STOP THIS INSANITY!

  • melinda vo says:

    the animal trainers need to STOP all of this abuse toward the elephants.

  • Gisele Angersbach says:

    If i had money like oprah forget building colleges! i would go myself, on MY JET and speak with the zoo owner myself then EXPLOIT this video on my show and then SLAM THEM WITH A SHUT DOWN VIOLATION  NOTICE BY MY BUDDY PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!!!!!!! what is wrong with this government not seeing what the hell is out there like this?? THE ELEPHANT IS HUGE AND DEFENSELESS and here you have a WORKER SUCH AS THIS ONE HURTING SUCH A SWEET ANIMAL IS BESIDE ME…we can post all the comments we want but who is really listening?? I AM SO SADDENED BY THIS that with all the fame and fortune out there that betty white has to be alone doing it all…ridiculous!  LETS CONTACT THIS ZOO AND SHUT THEM DOWN OR TAKE THESE ELEPHANTS AWAY AND PUT THEM IN MY BACK YARD i’ll take care of them! oohh that’s right i can’t…they are an exotic animal!

  • Barbara says:

    Would the zoo “sell” the elephants? I’ll help do whatever it takes to raise funds to buy them so they can retire to a sanctuary – this zoo is not the answer.

  • Isabella Ireland says:

    Please post a link so we can sign a petition. The one provided is broken. It’s essential we have everything at our fingertips so more people could sign these vital petitions! Thanks.

  • Mia Cardenas says:

    Donate them to a Zoo? What do they think they are? A used set of dishes? How about sending them to a sanctuary so they can live their last few years in peace. BOYCOT the circus PERIOD!

  • Tamara Hughes says:

    Stop exploiting life for monetary gain.

  • Susan Oneill says:

    I will never go to the circus

  • mstar0406 says:

    NO ONE SHOULD GO TO ANOTHER CIRCUS EVER AGAIN!!! And all of these animals should be nursed back to health in preservations and sanctuaries! Shame on them!

  • Janis Korkos says:

    I Detest the CIRCUS WORST SHOW ON The EARTH Why didn’t they ship those beautiful elephants to the Santuary in TN where they finally are free from abuse4 and exploitation….. THESE low lifes who beat them for no REASON>

  • Cathy says:

    These poor animals have had enough!!! Please send them to a sanctuary. 2011 and we are still talking about bullhooks and chains.

  • Kerstin Woll says:

    Stopp this cruel behaviour versus these innocent wonderful creatures!

  • Irene Leggett says:

    Its time these aged elephants were retired to a sanctuary not passed onto another situation where they are still abused and treated with the utmost contempt. Its time the authorities stepped in and demanded that all animals were banned from the degrading and brutal circus life.

  • Tharindu Muthukumarana says:

    We can’t tell use of bullhooks as retirement. They should be given freedom to roam freely. They have there own rights for it. Tharindu Muthukumarana.

  • Tim Frew says:

    i cant stand people like this! how would they like it if we use hooks and chains on them!!!!!!!!!

  • sean Warden says:

    Get another line of work and stop confining these poor animals

  • Sarah says:

    Please stop the abuse of these poor animals. There is so much evidence out there that shows elephants (and other animals) can feel pain and experience fear and sadness. Show some compassion and stop using these types of ‘training’ equipment. Better yet, stop using animals altogether in circuses and other forms of human ‘entertainment’ – show them the respect they deserve. Humans are not superior to animals and just because we are able to take control of species and force them to do things humans think are ‘fun’ or ‘cool’ does not mean we should!!

  • Blanca Valeria Rodriguez says:

    Stop using animales in Circus!!!

  • PROD HOMME isabelle says:

    c est honteux les faire travailler toute une vie et les “ceder” sans aucune consideration, ni respect pour ces magnifiques animaux…………SCANDALEUX !!!!!!

  • John Escobar says:

    What did the Elephants ever do to deserve this kind of cruel treatment?

  • Nancy Brown says:

    stop abusing elephants!

  • dawn says:


  • Sarah says:

    All animals deserve kindness and repect. Cruelty in any capacity is morally wrong and goes against humanity.

  • Adrian Alvarez says:

    I am against animal circus. I recently contacted PETA about a Mexican circus the Valentino brothers that travel around South America. This circus buys straight cats and dogs to feed their big cats. They claimed that their Tigers are feed with chicken, but they have found cages with all this animals in very bad conditions. The media and the police have intervened, but thanks to the corruption, they are getting away. Please help this little guys to don’t get this frighten ending. The circus is currently traveling in Venezuela, but the Venezuelan authorities are not doing anything about it. Thanks.

  • Shy says:

    Elephants never forget, stop abusing them and give them the life they deserve!

  • Hannah Dickinson says:

    If you wouldn’t do it to a person, don’t do it to an animal!

  • Spirrittalker says:

    If we have the technology to send men to the moon, then why haven’t we found something kind and gentle to use to train these beautiful intelligent animals? isn’t there an elephant whisperer out there. Does the dog whisperer have any ideas. We need to get out of the dark ages. Man has dominion over animals, not a ticket to abuse them. Please stop using the abusive bullhook, no not please, just stop.

  • Christopher Garceau says:

    Please retire these majestic animals to a sanctuary, they have endured more than enough as “performers”.

  • Sarah Morris says:

    Bullhooks and chains are disgusting !!! There is proof that elephants would happily go along with humans if treated with respect and dignity. There are tribes that have spent several hours with them travelling through jungle and forest just giving them indication of where they want them to go ! It’s not hard to treat them as we’d like to be treated. And that certainly includes not being beaten with a dirty, sharp hook until were bleeding and painfully terrified! This HAS to STOP. Right NOW !!

  • Jennifer Carpenito says:

    Why is it so difficult for humans to treat living things with kindness and respect? I wish those elephants would fight back!

  • Ioana Cristina Pop says:


  • Brittnie St. Cyr says:


  • Ann Green says:

    give the elephants a break please.

  • Myrna Velasquez says:

    Elephants are precious,innocent animals. Please, don’t allow them to suffer any longer.

  • Beth says:

    as i’m sure you will all agree these ‘beautiful’ creatures deserve nothing but the best in life and if you can be cruel to them then you need your head testing. NO animal deserves abuse EVER. Remember that. Thanks

  • Ericka says:

    BOOOOOO!!!! STOP using bullhooks and chains on elephants, and boycott circuses that still abuse animals! This is UNACCEPTABLE!!!

  • Mattias Larsson says:

    What are you DOING!?? This treatment is horrendous! Stop using bullhooks and chains on elephants!!!

  • manuela mantoiu says:

    This inhumane treatment is not acceptable, please put an end to it.

  • Paul says:

    unacceptable cruelty needs to stop.

  • ashley says:

    stop the abuse u **** piece of trash

  • Leslie moynahan says:

    plzzzzzzzzzzzzz the world is watching you..plz do the right thing and be kind…thanks..Leslie

  • PatriciaC says:

    Please stop such cruel punishment to these poor creatures who you have kindly given a second chance to.

  • PatriciaC says:

    Please stop such cruel punishment to these poor creatures who you have kindly given a second chance to.

  • Kaila stasiuk says:

    Elephants are some of the smartest creatures on earth and do not deserve to be tortured. Shame should fill your hearts and heads for the methods in which you use towards these creatures. I strongly plead to you to stop using these cruel methods of bullhooks and chains. These poor elephants may not be able to speak for themselves but I can guarantee that many people like me will do whatever they can to stop this heartless and cruel treatment.

  • MA Moore says:

    ;( I would like to chain these circus and zoo people to a wall for a week! Let them see how it feels. If people want to see these beautiful, wild and majestic animals, they need to go on safari or watch Nat Geo! Get em PETA!