Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the Union but for the lives of our elephants the significance of an event that took place in Providence on Sunday 1 May 2016 will forever loom large in the history of captive performing wildlife. For on that date 11 Asian elephants gave their final bow for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus; in their performance arena that is.
Although these elephants have “packed up their trunks,” leaving behind a barbaric circus tradition, one is not so sure their days of retirement will shine so bright.
Even still, accolades must be given to Feld Entertainment, who operates the circus, for stopping their elephant acts before the promised 2018 season. But this also begs the question. Just how much of a true sanctuary is their Center For Elephant Conservation anyway?
The disparity of opinions could not be greater between the representatives of animal activist groups (PETA & The Humane Society of the U.S. among others) and representatives of Kenneth Feld (& family) who is CEO for Feld Entertainment. In fact, 14 years of litigation between these groups recently came to an end with a favorable ruling for Feld i.e. Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Yet one cannot turn a blind eye to the situation these retired circus elephants will ultimately find themselves in. Any human who has done their homework and who has an ounce of empathy for these sentient animals (elephants are highly intelligent souls) will know something is still not right.
PETA is justifiable in their concerns for these Ringling owned Asian elephants. They have shown, through “sworn testimony of the head of the CEC” (Center For Elephant Conservation) that the elephants “will still be threatened with bullhooks, kept in shackles,” subject to disease , put through breeding programs and worst of all, be used as clinical animal “test subjects”. (Watch the PETA video on YouTube “Ringling Bros. ‘Elephant Prison‘”. )
Where Ringling Circus Elephants Go Bullhooks Follow
The following text in quotations is taken directly from the National Geographic Video “When Ringling Bros. Retires Its Elephants, This is Where They Live”
“The bullhook is a tool used to guide performing elephants. Animal activists claim it’s unnecessary and has been used to abuse elephants. A growing number of cities have banned its use.” National Geographic
Trudy Williams : Manager of Animal Stewardship, Ringling Bros. Center For Elephant Conservation “A lot of the cities that we play in are not allowing the tools that we use to work with the elephants so it’s just too hard for a business to conduct itself that way. Basically alls it is is it’s just an extension of our hand. There’s a point at one end and then it curves at one end so I can , like, say ‘Mysore come here’ (and she nudges the elephant with the bullhook) and I can pull her towards me with part of it or I can say ‘get over’ and then I can push her over and everybody is trained to to (sic) use them properly and it’s a very very good tool just like using a collar and leash on a dog and a bit and bridle on on (sic) a horse.
It would seem obvious why many US cities, such as Minneapolis, have taken measures to ‘ban elephant bullhooks’ and the reasons are not because they (bullhooks) are as innocuous as pouring water off of a duck’s back.
Portrayals Are Not Always What They Seem
One must always carefully consider what we are being spoon-fed by the media when it comes to the care and treatment of our captive elephants. This even applies when viewing professionally produced, highly acclaimed National Geographic presentations. (Our Elephant Spoken Here blog exists solely to be a voice for our elephants who are unable to defend or save themselves. And yes, elephant activists / animal activists are intelligent enough to know when they are being spoon-fed.)
First watch this National Geographic YouTube Video “When Ringling Bros. Retires Its Elephants, This is Where They Live” then you decide if our elephants are going to have a happy retirement .” (One just cannot fathom hearing such statements from Trudy Williams or Stephen Payne of Feld Entertainment & the CEC.) Read the YouTube comments section, instead, from the majority (of opinions) of caring humans who fear for our elephants.
P.S. Bullhooks are not as soft as feathers (they are more akin to tire irons with added sharp points) and elephants do not naturally do gymnastics, such as headstands, out in the wild on any particular day (add sarcasm here).
To Be Continued: Ringling Bros. Circus Ends 145 Year Tradition By Sending Their Last 11 Performing Elephants into Early Retirement to Ringling’s Center For Elephant Conservation in Florida, But Will They Really Be Free To Live As Elephants? : Elephant Activists Think Not : Part 2
Watch the PETA YouTube video “Ringling Bros. ‘Elephant Prison.” PETA shows how Ringling’s retired circus elephants will really live at The Center For Elephant Conservation in Florida.