A parking lot in Saint Louis, Missouri got quite a surprise when elephants belonging to the St. Louis Moolah Shrine Circus made an appearance.
So bad in fact, that Animal rights campaigners have called for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, as undercover video footage reveals shocking abuse of circus elephants.
An undercover agent filmed Carson & Barnes trainers using blowtorches and electric prods on elephants and a head trainer tells his protégé to “make ‘em scream.”
In order to train an 8,000-11,000 pound animal to perform tricks, physical punishment has been a standard training method. Elephants are frequently beaten, shocked, and whipped in order for them to perform repeatedly the routines of circus performance.
With skin (and emotions) as sensitive as humans, it is completely understandable why they escape when there is the slightest chance.
In testimony provided by former Beatty-Cole elephant keeper Tom Rider, he revealed "in White Plains, N.Y., when Pete did not perform her act properly, she was taken to the tent and laid down, and five trainers beat her with bull-hooks." Rider also told officials that "after my three years working with elephants in the circus, I can tell you that they live in confinement and they are beaten all the time when they don't perform properly." To hide this abuse from the public, cuts and lacerations from bull-hooks are often covered up with "wonder dust," a type of theatrical pancake makeup.
If there could be anything worse, it would be the confinement they endure. In the wild, elephants generally walk up to 50 miles per day - but in circuses they are often confined to spaces no bigger than a standard one-bedroom apartment. Some states require the chaining of elephants when not performing. They are then chained in spaces the size of an average automobile by two legs for up to twenty hours a day.
Who wouldn't run? Their entire lives with the circus are lived in this manner - and all the while, just as humans would, they long for freedom evidenced by the hundreds of stories of elephant escapes.
Image via YouTube