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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

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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emileee emileee 17 December 2009
ofcourse this is a Ringling Bros circus .. =(
here is a link to an interview with Sam Haddock
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Rosie Wolf Rosie Wolf 17 December 2009
Just solid proof of what every relatively intelligent person should know about circus' anyway. Hopefully with photos like these people will start waking up.
I'm definitely contacting my local council, yet again, next year before the circus arrived. It was just up the road from where i live that most recently a man died after an elephant sat on him. I'm hoping there was enough bad press on that to help prevent them coming back again.
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Jen Jen 17 December 2009
DISGUSTING :/  times like these I'm ashamed I'm human.
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Ancksu Ancksu 18 December 2009
Well it's not you doing it, is it.  Just be embarrassed that this is a fact...
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Compostkitty Compostkitty 18 December 2009
that poor elephant you can see the hurt its it little eyes.
im waiting for the day i hear someone has poked and prodded one of these people just like they do to the elephants and others
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Jen Jen 18 December 2009
Point taken. I was just upset.
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Lauren Elizabeth Lauren Elizabeth 18 December 2009
Boycott Lennon Bros and all animal circuses that come to town. Protest if they come to your town/city!
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mikayla mikayla 19 December 2009
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Natasha Natasha 19 December 2009
Whilst circuses are notorious for this sort of treatment to elephants (and many other animals for that matter), we also need to understand that the same training methids occur in india and thailand when it comes to training elephants for trekking rides, elephant painting shows, elephant begging etc.  Not only do we need to boycott circuses, but any tourism operation that uses elephants for pure exploitation, because you can bet your bottom dollar, the elephants in such Asian regions has been trained using the 'pajaan' (look this up on You Tube) - similar to what we have seen in the pictures above. So, please don't EVER go elephant trekking when you are holidays - you are only contributing to the torture of these babies.  Given that elephants live as long as humans, we are talking about doing the same thing to a toddler....If you are travelling os and want to get up close and personal with elephants, check out the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, (  No riding, no tricks, just elephants being elephants.
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Storm Storm 20 December 2009
so sad sad when I see stuff like this I find it really hard not to hate people and even more hatred that there isn't really that much I can do about it
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Tracy3 Tracy3 22 December 2009
I have worked in 2 circuses, and have seen the abuse used in training the animals. We must stop going to these circuses, that's the only way - hit them where it hurts, MONEY. Believe me, it's all that matters to them, NOT THE ANIMALS!!!
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Cj Cj 22 December 2009
Oh no,  cry! You can't do that to them.
It's amazing how people find circuses entertaining, however i guess most people have no idea what goes on behind the curtains most of the time. I wish people were a lot more insightful when it comes to animals than they are.
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gale gale 27 December 2009
When are people going to realise the harm that we are doing to our planet and animals,lm ashamed to be a human.
That baby elephant should be with its mother and the rest of the herd in a jungle roaming free.!!!!!!

Elephants,tigers,orangutans,rhinos,dolphins and whales where and when will it end.
Absolutely appalling.
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ChloeMB ChloeMB 29 December 2009
Disgusting. How can they do this to animals and call it entertainment for us humans?
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cinda cinda 20 January 2010
I have written many letters to ringling bros and abused them! They just don't care and send a generic letter back stating how they look after their animals very well!
What a pack of liers and abusers they are.
They will rot in hell!!
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brookeb brookeb 21 January 2010
Poor little baby! That is digusting, those ppl should be shot! sad cry
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pitterpatter pitterpatter 21 January 2010
I think there's a circus heading to Gympie and Maroochydore...  Could be Maryborough, I always get them mixed up!  But yeah, if anyone in those areas wants to dissuade their friends?  My housemates got all excited but then they saw there were animals...
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Metal Vyxen Metal Vyxen 21 January 2010
When I was little I saw went to a circus and saw how they treated animals, my love for animals and their wealfare grew from that day and my haterd for Circuses and humans grew even more !
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Animalib Animalib 22 January 2010
PETA has a petition on this issue and I believe there are other organizations that have petitions for it as well.  

But the best way to stop this disgusting cruelty to animals in circuses is to protest outside the circus to let people know and then the governments must ban them.  As the actual circuses are not going to stop.
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Animals Angel Animals Angel 28 January 2010
I am heart bbroken, disgusted, and angry all in one about what they do to these gorgeous little guys  angry furious cry I hate humanity sometimes.... no, make that, I HATE HUMANS!
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Helen Helen 3 February 2010
I cannot believe that I share a planet with insanely cruel  humans  like this! Torturing baby elephants for peoples entertainment I hate circuses! Reminds me of the inhuman way the dancing bears are treated!
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Bec93 Bec93 11 February 2010
i went to an elephant sanctuary in malaysia and they gain the elphants trust, rather than this cruel treatement!. they should treat all elephants that cant survive in the wild on thier own like that sanctuary! happy
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Ryuk_Ash Ryuk_Ash 16 February 2010
Im ashamed of the human race.

People are disgusting.

I cannot understand how anybody can bring themselves to treat animals this way.  =/

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Tay Tay 14 March 2010
these people should be ASHAMED of themselves!!
elephants are my personal favourite, and it tears me apart to look at these pictures! i do not support any circuses that use animals as an attraction. animals are not toys. they are living things just like humans. sad thing is.. they have more heart than a human being. save these poor helpless animals.
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Elese Elese 17 March 2010
On the perry bro's website they have a petition FOR keeping her with them!
WTF furious
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Elese Elese 17 March 2010
i meant saigon btw!
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Corina Corina 27 July 2011
Hurts my heart sad
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Lisa10 Lisa10 28 July 2011
How can they just stand there and abuse a beautiful harmless, innocent animal? Are they even alive with a beating heart, these people cannot seriously be human, I mean can you imagine doing this as a job and actually being able to go to work each day and sleep well at night? As I once read on a tee shirt People=SHIT, it's so true....Another reminder of how horrid and nasty the human race can be...SHAME on you people!!!!!
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