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Bull Hooks

How to Break a Baby Elephant

How to Break a Baby Elephant

Posted 17 December 2009   by Karen         Permalink | 28 Comments

Tags: exotic animals, animal circuses, bull hooks, elephants, entertainment, Ringling Bros.

Animal circuses have long wanted us to believe that exotic animals that are forced to perform under the big top do so because they 'love' to perform. They wanted us to believe that circus animals are well cared for, and learn those unnatural and demeaning 'tricks' through 'reward systems' - and not through violence, and fear of punishment.

But seriously, how DO you get a wild 3.5 tonne animal to abandon its natural behaviours in favour of standing on her head in front of noisy crowds and gawking children? The late former Ringling Bros. elephant handler-turned-whistleblower Sam Haddock shines some light on the 'methods' used to break the spirits of baby elephants at the Ringling "conservation center" (elephant breeding and training centre) in Florida:


See more photos at RinglingBeatsAnimals.com

There is a reason it takes a whistleblower to get these images to the public. Tying up baby elephants, using electric prods and jabbing them with painful 'bull hooks' don't exactly make pretty pictures. Ringling and other animal circuses know that people would refuse to pay to see animals perform if they had any idea what really happens to these animals when the costumes come off and the audience goes home. And if you're hoping it might be any better for animals down under, think again...

John Le Mare, who is the Executive Secretary of the Circus Federation of Australia, claimed earlier this year that "There is no need to have [animals] doing anything other than variations on natural behaviour during play and socialisation". Fooled yet? He then said: "Ringling Bros Circus in the United States, for example, has its own elephant breeding program, and is likely to come up with new techniques for the care and training of many animals over the next year or so. That will push us to have another hard look at what we're doing here and improve animal welfare in Australian circuses even further by adopting some of those practices..."(source)

If Australia is taking animal welfare tips from notorious animal abusers like Ringling, then the future is bleak for the many remaining prisoners of Australia's animal circuses. These animals are relying on us. If you know anyone who attends animal circuses, please show them these pictures! And if you see an animal circus coming to your town, contact your local council immediately and ask them to follow the lead of other caring towns that have stood up to animal abuse and banned exotic animal circuses from performing on their land.

For the elephants <3

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Ipswich Bans Cruel Animal Circuses

Ipswich Bans Cruel Animal Circuses

Posted 2 July 2009   by Jesse         Permalink | 9 Comments

Tags: exotic animals, animal circuses, bull hooks, posters, entertainment, victory

Some great news came out of Ipswich this week. Ipswich City Council voted to ban exotic animals from being used in circuses on council land. That makes Ipswich the first council in Queensland to take a stand against cruel animal circuses. Woot!

And it's about time! The lives of wild animals in circuses is the pits. They are tormented and abused to instill fear, so they will perform tricks for the audience. (Have you notice that it's a whip not a reward that they use?) Elephant 'trainers' often use a bullhook (a stick with a sharp metal hook on one end) to control or punish elephants. This hook is dug into senstitive parts of their body such as behind their ears, in their mouth or the bottoms of their feet.

When not performing, these animals, who might wander tens, if not hundreds of kilometers in a day in the wild, are confined in tiny barren cages. They spend months on the road carted from town to town, to be brought out on stage to perform in bright, loud tents for onlookers.

So a big hoorah to Ispwich Council for taking a stand against animal cruelty. Here's hoping a few more councils follow suit. If you have a moment, please write to Ipswich to congratulate them on the ban ([email protected]). And you might even like to write to your own local council and encourage them to ban exotic animal circuses too!

While I'm at it, I thought I'd also share these brilliant campaign posters from a collaboration between two portuguese animal advocacy groups, Aco Animal and Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos do Animal. They really sum it up well:

"Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls for the crack of the whip against the animal's stinging wounds. A big round of applause for the flaming hoops, the injuries and the electric shocks. Come and see the famed number of cages and tightly binding chains allowing no escape from endless training sessions. Laugh, applaud and join in with the repetitive choreographed routines typical of depressed animals under great stress. All the fun of the circus travelling from city to city exhibiting animals as human caricatures. Clowning around that's no fun at all. Animal circuses, don't be part of the show."






(If you're keen to check out some other clever NGO campaigns, I found these at: osocio.org)

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