Ringling Bros. “training” methods:
- Beat unruly or depressed elephants that fail to cooperate with bullhooks
- Punish elephants and babies that do not want to work by isolating them from the other animals and starving them
- Play loud rock music to drown out the sounds of babies screaming
- Depriving the elephants of play
- Try and convince the public that “conga lines” and “headstands” are natural elephant behaviours and that there is nothing cruel about it
- Use electric hotshots on babies or aggressive elephants if bullhooks aren’t enough to get them to submit
Riccardo - 8 month old baby broke two legs after being forced to sit on a plastic tub that was too high for him, like the photo above. He was made to walk 100 yards to the barn before he collapsed in shock and agony. He never got up again.
Birthing - Mothers in labour are chained for 15 hours straight. When the calf is born, it drops onto solid concrete floor. If the calf is male it is usually euthanized or sold on.
Hiding the cruelty - in order to pass inspection, keepers smear mud onto the legs of elephants, covering up any lesions or burns. Hot shots are kept well hidden.
Revenge - Elephants that retaliate or try and hurt their keepers back are severely punished. They are electrocuted for about ten minutes. One elephant was in so much pain it regurgitated water. They are beaten for several minutes with bullhooks and electrocuted. Sometimes the keepers get so worn out from the beating that they take a break and then come back later to “finish the job”.
Replacements - If babies die whilst travelling on the road, they simply “send for another”, as if they are mere props.
Power tricks - some tricks put so much strain on the animal’s body that they suffer severe arthritis and ruptures to their uterus.
Beatings - “I’ve seen elephants being beaten who have no idea why they are being beaten or what is expected of them. They start randomly lifting one leg, and then another, and another, and lifting their trunk, hoping some trick will satisfy the trainer and make the beating stop.”