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The Cruelest Circus On Earth

Updated on May 12, 2011

Senseless Abuse of Elephants

A few years back, PETA exposed the horrific abuse elephants endure at the hands of Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus. Unfortunately, not much has changed since their investigation.

In 2009, several animal rights groups sued the circus and the case went to trial. The trial did not last very long. Despite footage of abuse and even a former trainer who testified against the circus, the case was dismissed.

How could imprisoning and torturing animals for the sake of entertainment be allowed under a court's ruling? Who are we to snatch animals from their habitat and abuse them? Have people become so desensitized that animal torture can be allowed in a so-called civilized society? Furthermore, asian elephants are endangered species and under law, are to be protected.

Regarding the case, the attorney for Ringling Brothers called the activist groups that sued the circus 'radicals' and went on to say that society does not share their beliefs. So according to this attorney, most people are okay with elephants being held captive and being beaten in order to perform silly tricks. The attorney also added that if it were not for circuses and zoos, most people will never see an elephant except in pictures.

If more people understood what goes on behind the scenes at circuses like Ringling Brothers, I doubt many people would continue to take their families to the circus. I also doubt that a person's life will be altered if he or she were never to see an elephant face to face.

Elephants in the Wild

Elephants are intelligent animals, perhaps even more so than the dolphin.  Elephants live to be about 70 years old. They are the largest mammal and have very few, if any, natural enemies. They eat a vegetarian diet and are very peaceful animals.

There are two types of elephants, asian elephants and african elephants. There are slight physical differences between the two. The elephants used in circuses are female asian elephants.

Elephants live in herds made up entirely of family members; grandmothers, mothers, aunts and calves of both sexes. Their herd is matriarchal and the leader is usually the oldest and most respected female of the group. Males leave the group when they become mature. Male elephants usually live in solitary, although sometimes males will come together to form a small herd. Males leave the group in order to prevent inbreeding which could cause complications to a newborn calf.

The calves in the family are raised by all of the adult females, not just the mother. When the herd becomes to crowded, some members will leave on their own to form new groups. The herd is close and like with humans, some elephants are more popular while others are shy and less social. When an elephant dies, the entire herd will go into moruning.

How Circuses Train Elephants

Circuses begin training elephants as babies. They are snatched from their mothers and trainers use bull hooks to train them. Bull hooks are two to three foot long cords. At one end there is a sharp steel hook and a poker. The bull hook is used to strike the animal in order to injure and scare them into performing.

When elephants are not performing, they are chained. They are chained securely for twenty hours at a time. They cannot move, turn or lie down.

A footage, which was too disturbing that I decided not to add it, shows a baby elephant being whipped repeatedly while the mother is chained nearby and unable to help her baby. The screams from the baby were so intense that it was unbearable to watch.

WARNING: Disturbing Images

Animal Free Circuses

This list is from Born Free's webpage. They update their page frequently, so please feel free to check out the link I provided below for more information.

Circus Garden
Ontario, Canada

Circus Italiano
Las Vegas, NV

Circus Millennia
Alexandria, VA

Circus Oz
Port Melbourne, Victoria Australia

Circus Smirkus
Greensboro, VT 05841

Cirque du Soleil
Montreal, QC Canada

Cloud Seeding Circus
Gainesville, FL

Lazer Vaudeville
Boulder, CO

Mexican International Circus
Edmonton, AB T5W 3H8

Neil Goldberg’s Cirque
Variety Arts Management
Hollywood, FL

The New Pickle Circus
Circus Center
San Francisco, CA

Born Free's Website:

How You Can Help

You can start by banning circuses that use animals. There are many circuses that do not use animals at all. Let friends and family members know what goes on at circuses that use animals. You can forward articles like this one and you tube videos in order to help educate people about animal abuse.

Ringling Brothers claims that they do not harm their animals. They believe - or claim to believe - that their methods are humane and that most people do not see anything wrong with beating elephants and keeping them chained for twenty hours a day. If they truly believe that, then they must be delusional or in deep denial. When people stop buying tickets, they will be forced to stop using animals.

Knowledge is power and when people know the truth, only then will there be change.


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    • Wasteless Project profile image

      Wasteless Project 

      6 years ago from Worldwide

      Thanks for posting this and spreading awareness!

    • wanzulfikri profile image


      6 years ago from Malaysia

      This is freaking sick. We should protect the animals from the cruelness of the circus group.

    • successfulblogger profile image


      6 years ago from Los Angeles,Ca

      Very sad

    • amymarie_5 profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy DeMarco 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Kentuckyslone,

      Thank you for commenting. I really don't understand how they get away with it. I think people are becoming more aware of the life of circus animals and if the courts won't stop it, then people just need to stop going to these types of circuses.

    • kentuckyslone profile image


      7 years ago

      Well I for one am ABSOLUTELY NOT OK with elephants "being held captive and being beaten in order to perform silly tricks" Circus animals live a terrible life and as much as we hear about animal cruelty and people being fined and jailed over abuse of cats and dogs it is amazing that this still goes on as it does with circuses!

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Amymarie, yes, it is so hard to be a feeling, sensitive person in this world. It hurts me terribly whenever I think of animals at our mercy (and I think about it all the time) who are mistreated, abused, neglected, abandoned, killed for consumption, the list goes on. You are brave for having written this hub..and I THANK you for it! I have never liked the circus or zoos..they cage animals and treat them as 'freaks.' I don't agree at all that zoos can be "learning experiences" for people..that's a big lie perpetrated by profiteers at animals' expense. We humans walk by the cages and stare as if we're looking at an alien...that is the truth about how circuses and zoos portray a freakshow. Just like the "old days" as you have pointed out, where people were treated and used the same way. Thank you, again!!!

    • amymarie_5 profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy DeMarco 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for commenting and for the warm compliment. It means a lot to me because I love animals and I get very angry when I hear of people doing these kinds of things. I've been wanting to write about this for a while now. I'm a sensitive person and it really was difficult to see a lot of the videos. Like you said, I need to put it out there. People need to know what they are spending their money on when they go to the circus. I've never been a fan of Ringling Brothers. In the old days they had the freak shows and exploited people with handicaps and deformities. They've never been a very kind circus.

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Amymarie...this is so compelling and I am with you 1000% This is disgusting and it angers me greatly! I HATE circuses, any abuse of animals for any reason...I don't care who thinks there is some type of "benefit" in it for humans...I say they can go to HELL..which is what has happened to these poor elephants, big cats and so many other animals in the "care" of circus personnel. I'd like to have a chance at those trainers!!!! They would NOT forget it! I am a total animal rights person and I hate what we have done and are doing to our fellow inhabitants of this earth. SO WHAT!!! if someone thinks it is 'good' for people to see far as I am concerned, that is a BS argument and a specious one! Bless you for showing this video and writing this excellent hub. This article is informative, sensitive and well written. the video extremely difficult to watch but needs to be seen in order that people learn. UP, Useful and shared on FB as well as Like on FB...I am happy, for animals, that you are here on this earth to help. Sincerely, Kathy aka Lucky Cats.


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