We already know that elephants in the wild lead rich emotional lives, but recent findings about elephant brainpower and a “secret” language of low-frequency sounds have me wondering what these clever animals gossip about in the wild, and I’m going to have nightmares tonight about what the elephants who are beaten by Ringling are trying to tell us.
Among the researchers’ conclusions is that while baby elephants will shriek to signal distress, adult elephants shriek only from pain. If you’ve seen PETA’s undercover footage and the photographs from a former Ringling trainer, you know there are a lot of shrieking elephants at Ringling: Mothers and babies shriek as they are dragged away from each other with chains and ropes, babies shriek during violent “training” sessions, and trainers induce plenty of agonized shrieks as they dig their metal-tipped bullhooks into the elephants’ sensitive skin.
As one researcher in Kenya said about the elephants he studied, “They’ve proved to have abilities which have only been found elsewhere in the great apes and humans.” If you don’t think humans belong chained and beaten in the circus, please don’t support circuses that use elephants. Maybe this is how elephants say “thank you.”
Written by Heather Drennan