Video of Suffering Elephants Prompts PETA Appeal to Feds, Indy Authorities

As Ringling Bros. Arrives in Indianapolis, Recent Footage Shows Elephants Exhibiting Signs of Lameness and Experiencing Difficulty Walking

For Immediate Release:
December 3, 2015

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382


Today, Ringling Bros. starts its performances in Indianapolis—and as PETA warns in letters sent this morning to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Indianapolis Animal Care and Control Division, video footage taken just last week in Chicago shows that elephants traveling with the circus are suffering from painful lameness. That’s why PETA is asking authorities to inspect the circus in Indianapolis immediately and ensure that no lame or injured elephant is forced to perform in violation of city and federal law.

In its letters, PETA notes that a leading elephant expert and veterinarian who viewed the footage concluded that the elephant Mable appears to be lame in her left rear limb. And in the video, available here, the elephant Assan walks with a stiff and labored gait. Foot problems and arthritis are the leading reasons why captive elephants are euthanized, and Assan has been exhibiting signs of painful arthritis for years.

“Decades of captivity and performing uncomfortable tricks have left these elephants with pain and stiffness that could be fatal to them,” says PETA Foundation counsel Rachel Mathews. “PETA is calling on Ringling to stop exploiting elephants today and place them in an accredited sanctuary where they’ll finally be able to live out their lives unchained and free from beatings.”

Lameness and arthritis are aggravated by the stress of being on the road, confinement, prolonged chaining, unhygienic conditions, and being forced to perform physically challenging tricks—all elements of daily life in the circus. Last year at an inspection in Indianapolis, Ringling was caught denying veterinary care to three elephants who were reportedly locked in boxcars for as long as four days at a time while on the road. For all these reasons, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—urges families to stay away from the circus until it exclusively features talented human performers.

PETA’s letters are available here and here. For more information, please visit

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