A newly released video on the internet shows an elephant struggling to pull a line of five sleds through the snow. Four children were behind the adult on the first sled to get a ride. While the children were laughing and having fun, nobody noticed the pain the elephant was going through as the trainer forced him to keep going, with a scary whip in his hand.
“Come on, boy,” the trainer says in German. “Come on, big boy. That was fun, huh?”
A German circus company called the ReutlingerWeihnachtscircus Mambo, the elephant owns the elephant named Mambo and has shows throughout Europe. Mambo, along with four other elephants, named Nanda, Tonga, Kimba and Betty, are obliged to do unbelievable tricks like standing on their back legs or balancing on tiny stools or carry acrobats on their backs.
These elephants are put through a brutal training process called a crush to be trained to perform this way. They get beaten, starved and sleep- deprived by their trainers, who break their spirits mercilessly. And eventually, they give in to obey the commands of their trainers.
But it’s not just that. The trainers even use whips, bullhooks and stun guns to force those poor animals to perform. In other words, they are doing what they do under constant threat and fear.
It’s yet not evident what caused the circus owners to make Mambo pull sleds. However, the elephant campaign associate for In Defense of Animals, Will Anderson thinks it’s something very irresponsible and doesn’t take the elephant’s well being into consideration.
“Elephants can go into snow and colder temperatures for brief periods of time, but it’s all dependent upon the conditioning of the elephant, the temperature and length of exposure,” Anderson said. “Zoo elephants left out in below freezing temperatures have suffered severe frostbite on their ears and tails.”
Moreover, the elephants are also not very safe. Captive elephants can turn violent after putting up with years of abuse. Tyke the elephant is one striking example. He mauled his trainer during a live performance in Hawaii, after which he raced out of the arena and onto the streets.
Thankfully nothing bad happens in the video. Mambo is forced to have metal covers over the ends of his tusks so that he won’t be capable of harming anyone.
Anderson wasn’t overly shocked by the video although he was disturbed. He knows that elephants are treated unkindly in many parts of the world, including the U.S.
“It did not surprise me that the person controlling this elephant was comfortable having such a glorious animal pulling kids around in the snow,” Anderson said. “Reducing highly intelligent and emotionally and psychologically complex elephants [to circus animals] is always difficult to watch both because it’s a reminder of what elephants have to endure, but also because it perpetuates the lies these children are learning.”
In fact, Mambo isn’t the only elephant standing outside in the snow. There are at least three other elephants standing behind a fence as shown by the video. They were all kept there for the purpose of performances or rides on that particular day.
For sure, scenes like these are very upsetting. But there are organizations like IDA who are working hard to spread awareness about the lives of captive elephants lead in circuses and zoos. People who understand this have been choosing not to support such ventures, but to support the idea of elephants in the wild, where they originally belong most of all.
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