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Monitor elephants as they are unloaded, and watch for signs of lameness, such as an uneven gait, stiff or unbending legs, or limping. Arthritis and crippling injuries are common in elephants used in circuses. Traveling and performing can aggravate these conditions and cause intense pain. Elephants with such conditions should be retired. Forcing disabled animals to perform or give rides may be a violation of local ordinances.

Check trailers or boxcars for an excessive accumulation of feces and urine. When a circus arrives at a destination, often the elephants have been shackled and unable to move for many hours and sometimes days. Chronically wet and unsanitary conditions and inadequate exercise are major causes of potentially deadly foot rot and abscesses.