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Animal Abuse ? – Ringling Bros. Elephant Video

PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, released a video last week showing what it says is the abuse of circus elephants by Ringling Bros.  Earlier this year, PETA had someone affiliated with their group film the above clip during a tour. 

Used widely in elephant training, bullhooks are tools that have 4 to 8 pound handles with pointed metal hooks.  They are used to hit the elephant across the head, legs and body.  You will see that in one section of the video, a trainer swears at an elephant then strikes it with a bullhook while telling it to back up. 

 In a statement, Feld Entertainment Inc., which owns Ringling, called the PETA video “questionable in its context regarding the portrayal of circus animal handlers” and said the circus was in compliance with federal, state and local regulations at the time PETA says the video was made.  “Ringling Bros. is proud of its efforts to care for and increase the population of the endangered Asian elephant and we encourage people to come see for themselves that the animals are thriving in our care,” the company said.

Below are comments from an anonymous source in reply to the video:

Bravo for PETA. They targeted the ONLY family in the circus world who are known for being rough with their animals (and I know this, as I am a circus performer as well and have worked with hundreds of elephant animal trainers). Anyone in the circus community who sees these videos know that the abusers are all from the same family. PETA is giving off the impression that all animals on all circuses are being abused. This is simply not the case whatsoever.

And with regards to the whipping incident that occurs in this film, please, grow a brain. This is no different than how horses are trained and broken for competitions. Stop primarily going after the circuses and start going after every animal training institution.

Animal abuse in the circus world is similar to that of child abuse in America. Yes, it happens. It’s an unfortunate event, but it does occur. Yes, there are unfortunate idiots who hurt their animals without just cause. This is one of the only families who acts in this way. Go to any other circus and I can guarantee that 99% of the time, these actions will not be seen. When these actions are noticed by owners, the animal trainers usually lose jobs and gain a bad reputation in the circus world.

What do you think?  Can the elephants feel the bullhook through their tough hides? Or is this an attempt at training through fear?  I personally feel that PETA can be a bit sensational at times, but have they hit the nail on the head with this one?




July 26, 2009 Posted by | Animals, Controversial Topics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment