The 5 Most Shocking Reasons You Should Avoid Circuses That Use Elephants

1. Cruelly Confined 

In the wild: Elephants are migrant animals who walk up to 30 miles a day.


In captivity: Elephants are chained and forced to stand in the same place for hours and sometimes even days at a time. When it’s time to travel, they’re transported in small, filthy, poorly ventilated trailers or boxcars for an average of 26 hours but sometimes as long as up to 100 hours straight.

2. Beaten and Broken 

In the wild: Elephants’ skin is extremely sensitive, so sensitive in fact that they can feel even something as small as a fly landing on them. In the wild, they create tools to keep flies off their backs.

In captivity: Elephants are barbarically beaten and jabbed with bullhooks. The sharp end of the bullhook is used on the soft tissue behind the ears, inside the mouth, or in tender spots around the feet and under the chin. The other end of the bullhook is used as a club to strike the elephants.


In order to show them who is “in charge,” trainers will inflict pain on the elephants even when the animals haven’t done anything wrong.


3. Lonely and Longing for Their Mothers

In the wild: Elephants live in a matriarchal family system. Daughters stay with their mothers their whole lives, while sons stay well into their adolescence.

In captivity: Baby elephants, some of whom are still nursing, are caught rodeo-style with all four of their legs bound and are traumatically torn away from their mothers. From that point on, they’re kept apart from each other.

baby elephant in barn, ties on all four legs and tied to mother by neck

4. Without Love or Friendship

In the wild: Elephants live in herds with complex social structures.

In captivity: Torn away from their families and not allowed to engage in normal social interactions, elephants become dysfunctional, depressed, and aggressive.


5. Enslaved and Depressed 

In the wild: Elephants are highly intelligent mammals with rich emotional lives. They display many signs of empathy, anger, joy, and grief.

In captivity: Elephants are forced to suppress their natural behavior and are subject to the whim of their trainers.

48_S_Outdoor training_DB

Ringling Bros. and companies like it turn curious, energetic, happy elephants into tortured and mentally unbalanced performers, made to do cruel tricks for an audience that would be horrified if it knew what happened behind the scenes.

If you want to help this elephant, who has been torn away from her mother and beaten with a bullhook just to learn to sit on command …

baby elephants being trained to sit up on a tub

… and this elephant, who is bound and dragged as part of “training” …

baby elephant chained by all fours, men pulling on his/her legs

… and these elephants, who are chained, forced to stand for hours on hard cement, and sentenced to a lifetime of depression and abuse …

baby elephants chained indoors

… please don’t support circuses that use elephants—or any animals—and share this with everyone you know.