The Sadness Of Circus Elephants, In One Photo


While the circus promises to provide a fun time for you and your family members, there is a dark side behind the mirth and merriment of the big top. The life of a circus performer is far from easy and elephants are not immune to this harsh reality.

Sam Haddock, a former trainer at Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus took a shocking photograph, a picture that served to pull back the curtain and show circus patrons what really takes place behind the bright lights of the big top.

The image depicts a group of baby elephants, forced to live in a dark concrete basement. They are all chained to the wall and their parents are nowhere to be found. One of the elephants appears to be struggling to break free of their chains and is clearly wishing for freedom. Most of us probably had no idea that circus elephants were subject to such deplorable conditions.


Worst of all, this photo is simply just a snapshot of their everyday existence. The journey that elephants take before they arrive at the circus is arduous to say the least. Circus elephants are typically taken away from their mothers at an incredibly young age. In certain instances, the elephants are removed from their parents within days of being born.


This process serves to break the hearts of young elephants from the very beginning. The babies are taken away from their parents and from there, they are prepared for the rigors of circus life. They are roped and forced into the types of unnatural positions they will need to master to become proper performing elephants.


Elephant trainers treat these babies terribly, even resorting to jabbing them with hooks when they do not follow instructions. When numerous cities decided to ban the use of these bullhooks, Ringling did not change their practices and simply chose to take their circus elsewhere.

Luckily, there are people who work tirelessly to alleviate these cruel and unusual conditions. The Elephant Sanctuary is a place in Tennessee where rescued circus elephants are able to live out the rest of their days in peace. The sanctuary keeps the elephants safe from visitors, while still accepting donations to offer their residents a better quality of life.


The best thing that we can do is to avoid patronizing any circus that uses animals in this manner. Sharing this story helps to spread the word about these deplorable conditions and will shed further light on why these archaic practices need to stop immediately.

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