Tag Archives: Indian elephants

Is cruelty on your vacation itinerary?

By Dr. Heather Rally

For many people planning overseas vacations, the exotic lure of India beckons. From the great Ganges River and the beaches of Goa to the iconic Taj Mahal and the towering Himalayas, the south Asian country holds an irresistible appeal. But beware: Almost as soon as a tourist sets foot in India, an enslaved elephant is offered for “entertainment.”

Elephants in India are forced to work under a variety of unnatural conditions, from festivals and temples to tourist rides. Those used in cities spend the entire day—and much of the night—walking on scorching-hot, pothole-ridden roads, breathing in exhaust fumes and “begging” for food in return for “blessings.” They’re often crippled with painful foot and toenail disease, sleep-deprived, malnourished and denied everything that makes an elephant’s life worthwhile: social interactions with their families, swimming and making choices about their daily lives.

My visit to one of India’s top tourist destinations, the Amer Fort in Jaipur, was particularly disheartening. About 100 elephants there are forced to carry tourists back and forth from the entrance to the main gate. The elephants’ mahouts (handlers) carry sticks to jab them with to ensure that they obey. As a veterinarian, I observed that many of the elephants being used to ferry tourists back and forth to the Amer Fort were suffering from serious, even life-threatening, foot disease. Many were also visually impaired. Some elephants had holes punched in their sensitive ears and drilled into their tusks just so that the mahouts could hang decorative ribbons from them. Captive elephants like these are often forced to work for long periods without adequate time to rest and recuperate.

The suffering begins almost from the day they are born. Often when they are just 2 years old, baby elephants are torn away from their mothers’ tender care and either tied up between trees with heavy chains and ropes, which cause painful abrasions, or confined to a tiny wooden enclosure called a kraal. Trainers then beat them with sticks and jab them with ankuses until their spirits are utterly broken. Shockingly, this torture can go on for months.

When elephants are not being forced to work, they are often chained to concrete stalls for hours on end so that they’re unable to move more than a step in any direction and forced to stand in their own excrement. They are rarely provided with adequate veterinary care and can suffer from tuberculosis, which can be transmitted to humans; skin ailments; eye infections; cataracts; and crippling arthritis and foot disease. Their quality of life is abysmal. When denied everything that gives their lives meaning, they become profoundly depressed. Many of them rock and sway constantly, a symptom of mental illness, and lash out at their mahouts and others around them.

Elephants are highly social animals who lavish affection and attention on their family members. In the wild, each day is filled with socializing, exploring, playing and participating in other group activities. Births are cause for celebration, and deaths of loved ones are mourned. Scientists have documented the depth and reach of elephants’ intelligence and emotional range. They are self-aware and empathetic, they plan ahead and they enjoy a social life as rich and complex as our own.

In captivity, these social and emotional bonds are destroyed.

Elephants in India endure this torment because tourists don’t realize that when they take elephant rides or participate in other forms of entertainment that uses elephants, they are directly supporting it. If you’re planning a trip to India, enjoy all that India has to offer, but please don’t support cruelty to elephants.

Tears of joy! Music to my soul! Ringling to phase out elephant acts by 2018

Thank you, PETA! Thank you, PETA!

Thank you to all the great moms, kids, dads, school teachers and regular folks who saw the insane heartlessness and MADE RIGHTEOUS NOISE, educated loved ones, strangers and politicians with passion AND smarts, stayed true and tenacious to the cause! Elephants do not belong in travelling shows!  They belong in their true home – the wild … nature in India and Africa.

I’d like to think InCity Times, which has been on this issue for almost 14 YEARS!!!!, played a teeny part in the turnaround.  The ELEPHANTS NEED TO BE FREE campaign! I am so proud of us for helping create positive change in Worcester … and the world!

Thanks to STEVE BAER, DEIRDRE HEALY and DEB YOUNG – InCity Times writers and animal lovers who wrote so beautifully and intelligently about elephants in our paper and on this website! Check out our circus FB page on this website. Deb’s posted some stuff for ya!

I would like to see this MONUMENTAL VICTORY FOR ELEPHANTS enacted now! Happen today! Right this very second! Still, I’m VERY HAPPY! Very happy indeed!

– Rosalie Tirella

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Baby Elephant at Ringling Bros.

Baby Elephant at Ringling Bros.

Ringling to Phase Out Elephant Acts by 2018

Written by PETA March 5, 2015

For 35 years, PETA has protested Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ cruelty to elephants. PETA also caught Ringling’s abuse on video and released to the world a former Ringling trainer’s photos of the circus’s violent baby-elephant training to the world.

We know that extreme abuse of these majestic animals occurs every single day, so if Ringling is telling the truth about ending this horror, then it’s a day to pop the champagne corks and rejoice.

Elephants at Ringling Bros.

However, many of the elephants with Ringling are painfully arthritic or have tuberculosis, so their retirement day needs to come now.

Three years is too long for a mother elephant separated from her calf, too long for a baby elephant beaten with bullhooks (a sharp weapon resembling a fireplace poker that Ringling handlers use routinely), and too long for an animal who would roam up to 30 miles a day in the wild but who is instead kept in shackles.

If Ringling is serious about this decision, then it needs to end its use of elephants NOW. 

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: The saddest show on earth

By Ingrid E. Newkirk

Elephants have the largest brains of any mammal on the face of the earth. They are creative, altruistic and kind. They use tools to sweep paths and even to draw pictures in the dirt and scratch themselves in inaccessible places, and they communicate subsonically at frequencies so low that humans cannot detect them without sophisticated equipment. Imagine, then, what it must be like for them to be told what to do, courtesy of a bullhook—a rod resembling a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on the end—at every moment of their lives. Yet this is what life is like for elephants used in circuses, who are constantly beaten and kept chained, sometimes for days at a time.

It takes a lot to get circusgoers to see beyond the headdresses and glitter to that metal-tipped bullhook sinking into an elephant’s soft flesh behind her ears and knees. But I hope that PETA’s new undercover investigation of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will help open some eyes.
PETA’s investigator caught Ringling employees digging sharp metal bullhooks into the sensitive skin behind elephants’ knees and under their trunks. Eight employees—including an animal superintendent and a head elephant trainer—used bullhooks and other objects to strike elephants on the head, ears and trunk. Employees whipped elephants and a tiger, including on or near the face. One elephant, Tonka, repeatedly exhibited signs of severe psychological stress but was nevertheless forced to perform night after night. The footage can be seen on our website. Continue reading Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: The saddest show on earth