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Why the circus is no fun for elephants

Green Right Now Reports An elephant ride, ADI says, is backed by a regime of cruelty. (Photo: ADI) In 2013, we learned a lot about the abuse of animals used...

Green Right Now Reports

Elephants at Jaycees in Gregg County in Longview Texas

An elephant ride, ADI says, is backed by a regime of cruelty. (Photo: ADI)

In 2013, we learned a lot about the abuse of animals used for entertainment. The critically acclaimed film Blackfish exposed how Seaworld’s whales are confined and mistreated, leading to a dangerous situation for trainers.

But it’s not just marine mammals that are subjected to unnatural conditions for the amusement of humans. Carriage horses take a pounding carrying tourists all day long on paved city streets. Circus cats and elephants are caged and trained in ways the public doesn’t realize when they see them performing as part of a glittering traveling show or at a special fair or event.

Animal Defenders International is leading the effort to stop this abuse of animals used in entertainment. The group enjoyed many recent victories, winning bans on the use of wild animals in circuses in Colombia, Peru and El Salvador, as well as a ban on the cosmetic testing on animals in Europe, something the group had been advocating for 30 years.

Now ADI is now pushing for help for elephants being used at small fairs for elephant rides and performances. Noted animal activist Bob Barker narrates ADI’s “No Fun for Elephants” video, which shows how the animals are incessantly prodded, poked and slapped as they are “trained” to perform.

The animal activists are focusing their efforts on two groups, Have Trunk Will Travel of Perris, CA and Trunks & Humps of Conroe, TX. These providers are featured in the video, which shows the animals being slapped and electric shocked during training and handling, according to ADI.

Both animal groups say that they treat their animals with respect and care, and HTWT portrays its business as providing safe harbor for an endangered species.

ADI is mailing DVDs of the video “No Fun for Elephants” to event organizers in the US to enlighten them about how the animals are treated and ask them to not book them for exhibitions. Already the group has had several successes with the LA County Fair and several others stopping the use of elephants at their events and signing policies pledging to not hire elephant acts or rides.

“We believe that once people see how these animals suffer behind the scenes, they will not endorse such cruelty,” said Jan Creamer, ADI President

“We realize an elephant walking around a small enclosure giving rides looks like a bit of harmless fun, but it takes a vicious training regime to get these wild animals to be so quiet and compliant in public. We know that event organizers will be shocked and will agree that these rides and appearances bring shame on their event.”

ADI is not alone in its efforts to rescue elephants from the bull hooks and other tools of torment. PETA also has been campaigning against circuses on behalf of elephants.

ADI, with offices in London, Los Angeles and Bogota, campaigns for better treatment of animals used in entertainment — or in the case of the elephants and small fairs, the cessation of using animals in this capacity. The group provides technical advice to governments and others on this topic.

The group supports progressive animal protection legislation and helps drafting regulations. It rescues animals in distress and exposes behind-the-scenes suffering in industry, often securing photographic evidence of the mistreatment of animals.


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