ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Elephant Chains

Updated on November 22, 2016

Tusko the elephant was described as the meanest and largest elephant in the US. If honestly measured he was not the largest, but a case could be made that he was the most dangerous. Note the chains attaching his tusks to his legs. Tusko's reputation as a killer became a part of his draw for the circus. After the original Tusko died his name was used for several 'successors'.

Dangerous Circus Elephants

In the early days of circuses, elephants were an essential attraction for the show. Circuses kept elephants that were known to be dangerous: males, and elephants caught from the wild as adults.

Elephant bulls go through a reproductive state called musth when they become aggressive and unpredictable, and dangerous even to their normal trainers and handlers. Even when they killed many people elephants were too valuable to kill or surrender.

Elephants as Circus Equipment

These elephants not only took part in shows but also parades through the town to draw the crowds to the tent. Circuses would also lend out their elephants to construction and agricultural jobs in the winter season. As such, elephants had a lot of access to people.


Elephant Chains

Elephant chains were developed to reduce the risk presented by elephants of uncertain temperament being moved outside of an enclosure or tether, The chains used a range of techniques. and soon the most dangerous elephants were distinguished by the amazing weight and complexity of their chains.

Chain is used not only because it is heavy and very strong, but also because it is smooth and does not abrade the elephant's skin.

Restricting Movement

Elephant chains would restrict movement by connecting body parts. For example legs together and tusks to front legs. Chains would often be wrapped around the trunk to prevent the elephant reaching out and grabbing people.

In the early part of the 20th century some touring elephants had killed multiple people. however their value as a crowd-drawer would mean circuses continued to tour with these animals.


A second effect of chains was that the sheer weight would slow the elephants movement and prevent it from bolting. this included not only the chains on the body but long length of chain that the elephants would drag behind it.

Chain links were used not only because they were strong, but the links are smooth and will not abrade the skin, unlike rope.


Elephant chains are no longer in use today. Modern circuses keep ale elephants in the circus's permanent home location and tour with the far less dangerous females.

Some circuses still use a leg tether to restrain the traveling elephants, but others create indoor fenced enclosures where the elephants are kept in groups with the ability to move around freely.

Leg and drag chains are still sometimes used with semi-domesticated working elephants in Asia.

There are ongoing campaigns to end the remaining used of chain tether with elephants such as with temple elephants in Sri Lanka.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • psycheskinner profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Quite true. I will be adding more to this hub about how this practice became obsolete.

    • dailytop10 profile image


      5 years ago from Davao City

      That's mean and something we should never do. Let's learn from the past and keep away from animal cruelty. Chaining elephants just to entertain a crowd? That is really too much.

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 

      5 years ago

      Some circuses would raise baby elephants and use rope around their ankles... while they were young it was strong enough to hold them, but then when they grew up they didn't try to break free because they thought they were still as weak as they were when they were young.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)