Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

The story of Medi the elephant

Posted: 12 July 2013. Updated: 12 July 2013


Medi is an elephant who performed with a circus in Estonia until her tragic death in June 2013. This is her story.

Medi – also known as Madi – was apparently born in the wild in Asia in 1965. She has performed with Circus Althoff since the 1970s and Circus Mustang since 1991 alongside other elephants. After her companions died in November 2012 she was rented out by her owner Quai Weisheit to Rene Renz of Tsirkuse Tuur circus.

In May 2013, over three days, our friends at the Estonian Society for the Protection of Animals (ESPA) received seven eyewitness accounts of Medi being beaten and kicked. On one occasion she was apparently chained and beaten with a crowbar; despite pleas for her handler to stop.

A complaint was made to the authority who responded that an inspection had been carried out, and that no signs of abuse or injury had been identified. The local vet board did not question any of the eyewitnesses, nor did the police.
ESPA received communications from other organisations that stated Medi was taken from the wild and that her trunk was partially paralyzed and she was in poor health. They notified the authority.

There was insufficient evidence to prove that Medi had been born in the wild, therefore the authority ceased looking into whether a possible violation of the Animal Protection Act had been committed (the Act apparently does not permit the use of wild animals in public events).

Medi died in June 2013 whilst bathing in a lake in Narva after a performance with the circus. A vet who had examined her earlier in the week said that she died of heart failure and that there was no evidence to confirm mistreatment.

Experts have said:

“Whatever caused her sad death, drowning or heart failure or both, was exacerbated by her lying in the water with additional weight, plus being terrified as she could not breath and get up. What a sad unnecessary death.”

“… maybe Mädi did not have a heart attack (a circulatory failure happens rarely during bathing in a lake in summer time), but maybe she drowned. If she really drowned, René Renz misunderstood the situation and his behaviour was not helpful, it was wrong”

  • Read about Medi’s tragic death
  • Read expert views on her death
  • Find out more about the campaign to end animal circuses in Estonia

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