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Zoo Fined in Fatal Elephant Attack

Written by PETA | June 8, 2011
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Tennessee officials agreed with PETA that the Knoxville Zoo should be penalized for allowing handlers to come into direct contact with elephants and has recommended $8,400 in fines in connection with the death of a handler earlier this year.

Since the attack, the zoo has switched to a safer and more humane method of managing captive elephants called “protected contact,” in which barriers always separate elephants and handlers. Elephants handled through protected contact are never beaten with bullhooks.

It’s time for all zoos to move to protected contact, before another elephant who has suffered one beating too many lashes out against the person holding the bullhook. If you live near a zoo that is still using pain, fear, and force to control elephants, such as the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.; Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida; and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in California, contact our Action Team for help with launching a campaign to put an end to it.

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

Commenting is closed.
  • george says:


  • SUSANNA says:


  • Amanda says:

    The elephant only attacked the handler because he had been cruel to her. Treat animals with love and kindness and you will be rewarded greatly. They need our respect not our contempt.

  • Silke-Kerstin Werner says:

    please…………. i want more, INFORMATION !

  • Sharon Wakefield says:

    Do you wonder why elephants go beserk when you understand the way they’ve been treated all their lives! Good God-someone has to get through to these circuses to change their cruel methods of training. The elephants begin their training when they are just babies. Elephants have some emotions very similar to we humans.They need to be treated humanely, not w/brutality! Bless those that do!

  • Lin Pirretti says:

    Thanks again to PETA for improving the zoo. Kudos for keeping vigilant about freeing captive animals.

  • arijana says:

    thank you peta

  • Wolfy Sixx says:

    Why would you set captive animals free?? If it’s all they’ve known, they won’t survive in the wild. PETA are so stupid sometimes. I agree with the no bull hooks and that zoo’s don’t provide adequate enrichment/environment for elephants but still… Sure there’s a chance the elephant was taken from the wild, but many years ago – it is now used to being captive. The younger the animal the better; to be released back into the wild.

  • L says:

    Ok, bullhooks do NOT hurt elephants! Try hitting yourself one over and over, NOTHING!

  • Jambrina Sakellaropoulo says:

    Elephants need to roam free in the company of others. Limited space with no freedom can only anger and frustrate these (normally) gentle giants. All zoos are a lifetime of torture and should be banned! Elephants should not be spectators’ sport and deserve to live out their lives free, and in the wild!

  • Rex's Mom says:

    It would be wonderful if all captive elephants were free but where would they all go? They probably couldnt be sent back to Africa or Asia to live in the wild because they are so used to humans taking care of them (or abusing them). There is just so much room at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee or PAWS in California. I guess there should be more sanctuaries set up for elephants but who is going to do it? If I had the money, I’d donate a lot but I dont have much money. I love elephants and hate all the monsters who hurt them. They should get beaten with bull hooks and see how much they like it.

  • Sicilian Mama says:

    They don’t belong there!!!!

  • sardar1202 says:


  • Rita Ferron says:

    All animals should never be beaten or forced to do things that they shouldn’t have to do and all handlers, trainers or owners should get a few hits with the belt if they disobey the rules see how they like it

  • Brohdaw says:

    well elephants were not meant to be captive, I’m sure I’d lose my patience too!

  • Prefabrik says:

    I like your sharing.It’s very intersting and different…

  • Konteyner says:

    it’s very intersting.I like your sharing…

  • Prefabrik says:

    thanks for your sharing…

  • Ofis Mobilyas says:

    Elephants are animals to love, but remember only one remote.

  • sudeposu says:

    thank you for sharing…

  • [email protected] says:

    thank you nice sharing

  • konteyner says:

    Thank you so much for all of your efforts with helping the elephants!!!

  • Jeanell says:

    I completely agree. Zoos are the animal jail…actually they are worse then most shelters. Even as a child I didnt care for the zoo. Each of those animals deserve to be where they are suppose to the wild where God intended!!!!!!

  • happy says:

    you have to be stupid if you dont see what the zoo’s doing to the animals. for them is a jail for lifetime ask people what do they feel when they are in jail and what become of them

  • Beilgumseal says:

    Why have zoo’s at all? It doesn’t entertain people that much, seeing a lonely lion bored on a rock. Elephant’s and any other wild animal should not be held like this! So what – are human’s just doing zoo’s because they can? Who really likes Zoo’s?

  • Beilgumseal says:

    Why have zoo’s at all? It doesn’t entertain people that much, seeing a lonely lion bored on a rock. Elephant’s and any other wild animal should not be held like this! So what – are human’s just doing zoo’s because they can? Who really likes Zoo’s?

  • DENISE says:

    Please have a great consideration for animals!!!!!!


    Elephants are my favorite animals and knowing that every day they are beaten and mistreated just makes me want to cry! My family is strongly appossed to attending cicruses because of the way they treat the animals there. I think that PETA should more stongly promote their campaign to stop the cruel treatment of elephants and other circus animals on the east coast! Please PETA! I live in Marylan and until I got the email update from PETA i had no idea that you guys had a sustained effort going on in the field. You should definetely publicize this campaign! Thank you so much for all of your efforts with helping the elephants!!!

  • Anna says:

    Do they realize that elephant species is counted as endangered

  • Oliver says:

    *Adam pudlick- What are you talking about ? First of all PETA rocks. And about the meat in like 5-10 years the hole world are looking at meat like they look at ciggarets today. trust me.

  • Nancy B, says:

    I agree with the post about sending emails to companies that have changed habits, methods,procuring,etc. Let your vendor know. Whole Foods and Trader Joes listened to cage free product praise.

  • annie says:

    The only reason the elephant attacked was because it could not take the abuse any longer from the sadistic cowardly so called human being. Circuses using animals should be boycotted.Save animals from abuse.

  • omgflyingpigs says:

    Bullhooks may not be humane, but on the other hand I find nothing wrong with zoos. Zoo’s are a teaching ground for humans and a safe place for animals that are endangered and are in need of help. Those things are what zoos are all about teaching and animal conservation. Without zoos us humans would not be able to see the beauty of these animals and understand why they should be protected.

  • adam pudlick says:

    i think your website and what you guys do is rubbish you guys gotta find something better to do in life people eating tasty animals i love meat and ill never give it up

  • Tharindu Muthukumarana says:

    Elephants should not be chained what so ever, they should be kept to roam freely. Tharindu Muthukumarana

  • Gentlegiant says:

    Yes…………Never having them in captivity is the BEST ideah yet! However, then we have to protect them from the BASTARD poachers! Wish HUMANS would just leave the poor elephants ALONE to live their own lives!!!??? They don’t deserve such horrid treatment from ANYONE!!! Blessings to all who speak and act for the voiceless. You are the TRUE heros!

  • Sharshar says:

    this is very very sad that they go tjrough this kind of treatment! My zoo treats it animals very well. So I do feel bad for the ones that dont have the same consideration for animals as my zoo does.

  • Kate Gualtieri says:

    Along with petitions, I wish you would post “Letters Of Thanks” that we can sign to companies, organizations and countries that cease cruelty. I often go to their websites to do so and it would just be easier, PLUS they would see just how many of us they may have regained as customers, etc…by going cruelty free. Thanks!

  • Magda Zakrzewski says:

    I am so saddened today. Just heard about the terrible treatment of live animals transported from Australia for torture and slaughter into Asia. Now to discover that in the US where we are supposed to be so caring we use BULLHOOKS on elephants, the noblest and most sentient of animals. When will this exploitation of animals stop. Certainly not as long as we see them as ‘food’.

  • hari rohtih says:

    Dear, Greetings, Do not harm animals , they too have feelings as we have . take care and have a nice day ahead. rgds, Rohith

  • Eileen Young says:

    All bullhooks should be banned. Elephants, like humans can only take so much abuse! This poor elephant had had enough! Shame on anyone that is cruel or tortures an innocent animal. All animals are innocent!!!!

  • HeidiB4 says:

    Elephants don not belong on display, especially in places where they are so mistreated! It’s awful what they go through!!

  • Animal Lover says:

    And man thinks he is almighty and so intelligent.

  • Michelle Palonis says:

    I know for a fact that on May 25 2011, there was direct contact (no barrier between) with the elephants and trainers!  The trainers were bathing the Edie and Jana.  If you consider a waterhose a barrier then so be it.  My husband and I thought it was odd because a Zoo volunteer or worker stood there telling us about the “protected contact” rule WHILE we witnessed DIRECT contact!!!  If Jana had taken a quick step forward, her trainer would have been squished under her and against the wall!!!  I may have pics!  Someone, somewhere is not being honest about the “protected contact”.  No elephant should ever have to experience a bullhook either!

  • Michelle P. says:

    Really? Protected contact? I live near the Knoxville Zoo and I know for a fact…my husband and I witnessed DIRECT (no barrier between) CONTACT between the female elephants (Edie and Jana) and their handlers!! The handlers were bathing them! I will see if I took pics. We were shocked and even commented on it…since the Edie incident. And NO elephant should ever have to experience a bullhook!

  • Susann Schmidt says:

    Not have them in zoos would be the most humane method…

  • Abp says:

    do you know anything about the zoo in arkansas and how they handle the elephants?

  • Diane Dube says:

    Its time something is done for sure ,they think they are handling cats,but when they snap they realize who is the strongest ones,try respect for those poor circus animals…

  • Bambi says:

    How about closing Zoo’s and circus’s so that elephants aren’t captured and forced to live unnaturally and inhumane!!!???

  • MA Moore says:

    Payback from the animals =)