How YOU Can Help Stop Elephant Abuse

While Ringling Bros. circus may have caved to public pressure and pulled the elephants it owns off the road, Ringling is just one element of the three-ring circus known as the captive animal entertainment industry. Numerous exhibitors still stuff elephants into cramped, hot trailers and travel from venue to venue across the country. Often suffering from depression, painful arthritis, cracked toenails, and skin conditions—all brought on by their confinement—these animals are routinely beaten, shocked, and whipped until they learn to perform meaningless tricks and carry patrons on their back while plodding in circles for hours.

Here’s how you can help stop this abuse:

1. Let Us Know

If you hear about plans to bring an elephant to your area, give us a holler at [email protected]. While we track most circuses that use animals, we often rely on help from the public to stay up to date. Protests have been so successful that some exhibitors refuse to advertise their appearances! But with tips from folks like you, they don’t get far. So let us know, please. We’re all in this together.

2. Get in Touch With Animal Control

Contact your local animal control officers and ask them to monitor the exhibitor to prevent abuse with bullhooks—weapons resembling a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end—and other mistreatment. Because of heightened public awareness and evidence of routine mistreatment in circuses, local authorities across the country are taking a closer look at events that showcase exotic animals. Order PETA’s free “Basic Tips for Inspecting Elephants in Circuses” guide, and have it sent directly to them. It was specially written to help animal control officers, humane investigators, state wildlife agents, and other law-enforcement officials know what to look for when inspecting circuses.

A bullhook being used on a baby elephant.

3. Get the Facts

PETA maintains factsheets on numerous circuses and animal exhibitors that list their history of federal Animal Welfare Act violations as well as other problems. If one of the circuses listed is coming to your town, make sure your friends and family know why they should skip the show. Share the factsheet on your social media accounts so that your followers can stay informed.

Nosey the Elephant (1)

4. Protest

Many people who attend events that showcase exotic animals are unaware of what goes on behind the scenes, and once they hear about the abuse, they vow never to go again. Protesting at the venue is an effective way to educate attendees. See PETA’s “Holding a Demonstration” page for tips on how to do so, and get in touch with us. We’ll help you make your protest a success.

Activists, one wearing an elephant costume, protest outside the Circus World Museum: "Circuses: No Fun for Animals;" "Elephants are Abused;" "Beating Elephants is a Crime;" "Time for Elephant Freedom"

5. Contact Your Local Lawmakers

Elephants don’t willingly perform pointless tricks and haul screaming kids around fairs—they do it because their handlers never let them forget that with one wrong move, they may get beaten with a bullhook. Without these sinister weapons, handlers are rendered helpless. Some major cities across the U.S. have passed legislation outlawing bullhooks, and Rhode Island and California recently said, “Nope! Not on our watch,” to traveling exhibitors by banning bullhooks statewide. Follow the tips in our “Passing Animal-Friendly Legislation” guide, and get the ball rolling in your area.

6. Stay Loud

Elephants never forget the beatings and loneliness they endure for human entertainment. Remember to use any opportunities you can to speak up for them throughout the year—not only when you know that an exhibitor is coming to town. Make a statement by wearing a cool “Let Them Be Free” T-shirt, and pick up the matching tote to use for your groceries. They are both great conversation starters. And please take a minute to take action for Nosey, one of the loneliest elephants in the U.S., and then share the page widely. Any elephant who’s forced into captivity and used for entertainment has a sad story, but Nosey’s might be one of the saddest.


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