Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

Circus elephants used for children’s rides go out of control

Posted: 20 June 2014. Updated: 4 July 2014

Just weeks after a Bill to outlaw the use of wild animals in US circuses was introduced to Congress (Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act – H.R. 4525), Animal Defenders International (ADI) has released film of elephants used for children’s rides fighting as workers try to control them with bullhooks, metal bars and stun guns.

This latest video adds to the growing body of evidence on the danger of these cruel and outdated shows, where large and potentially dangerous animals are kept in collapsible, mobile and temporary facilities, in close proximity to the public.

One of the rampaging elephants featured in the video, Isa (owned by Carson & Barnes), has been reported to have escaped on more than one occasion.

In late March, three circus elephants escaped from Moolah Shrine Circus in St. Charles, Missouri. A number of cars were damaged but fortunately no one was hurt. Several people have been killed and injured by aggravated elephants in the US in the last few years.

The previously unreleased footage shows circus workers frantically trying to control the elephants as they run amok inside the UCCU Events Center at UVU Orem, Utah. Trainer Habib Omar and another elephant groom lash out at the elephants with bullhooks as they desperately try to contain them. Isa the elephant initially ignores the groom’s blows and charges into another elephant, believed to be called Bunny, easily driving the other elephant, weighing more than two tons, backwards.

Click here to watch the video

Despite this violent incident and the recent rampage in Missouri, the circus continues to give rides to children on these elephants.

ADI President, Jan Creamer: “Traveling circuses severely restrict the space these animals have to move around and they are commonly chained by two legs for a large part of their time, causing mental damage and abnormal behaviors. They are stressed and subjected to a brutal regime to keep them in line. Our investigations have shown that the violence used on these animals is also a factor of the lightweight, temporary enclosures, and anxious workers moving them across open ground, in close proximity to the public. It is a recipe for disaster.”

Other ADI footage released today of the elephants performing in Utah, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, shows that the animals are controlled with blows and jabs from an instrument known as a bullhook – a heavy bar with a metal hook on the end – as well as receiving electric shocks from a stun gun. Presenter Habib Omar can be seen to slip a stun gun from his pocket during performances and then give the elephants an electric shock.

ADI has sent complaints to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). OSHA recently took SeaWorld to task for a wilful violation where it “should have recognized the inherent risk of allowing trainers to interact with potentially dangerous animals. …Nonetheless, it required its employees to work…where they were subject to dangerous behavior.”

Jan Creamer: “This is the third US circus where ADI has filmed trainers shocking elephants with stun guns, so it’s fair to say that this animal abuse is endemic in the industry. Our video shows that using wild animals in circuses is both cruel and inherently dangerous. The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act needs to become law.”

H.R. 4525, The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), would reform the circus industry by eliminating wild animal acts from touring shows while allowing human performances and domesticated animals like horses and dogs to continue. With just a few minutes of the average 2-hour show featuring wild animals, it is a simple matter for the circuses to re-tool and re-shape their shows.

Around the world, 27 countries have banned or restricted use of wild animals, or selected species/uses including: Austria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovakia, Sweden, Portugal, Taiwan, Singapore, Bolivia, Peru, Costa Rica, India, Israel and others. Similar laws are being discussed in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Malta, Brazil, Chile, and Norway.

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Film and photographs are available from ADI.

CONTACT:
Lori De Waal 323-462-4122 lori.dewaal@dewaalpr.com
ADI Media Desk 323-804-9920 mediadesk@ad-international.org

SOURCES
The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act

“Danger of wild animal circus acts highlighted by damage caused by escaped elephants”

August 23, 2010 USDA press release “US Labor Department’s OSHA cites SeaWorld of Florida following animal trainer’s death”

“No Fun For Elephants,” ADI’s campaign to end the use of elephants for rides, performances and appearances at public events

About Animal Defenders International
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing behind-the-scenes suffering in the industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals and educates the public.

ADI has been responsible for much of the global legislation on animal circuses. In Bolivia, ADI also enforced the law, raiding 8 illegal circuses, rescuing and rehoming all of the animals.

Background – worldwide movement to end use of wild animals in traveling shows
The evidence that the suffering caused to wild animals by the constant travel, severe restrictions on movement and unnatural lifestyle has prompted authorities and governments around the world to end their use.

In the United States, 45 cities/counties in 21 states have taken action to restrict wild animals from traveling circuses. And around the world, hundreds of local ordinances are in place, including in the UK, Europe, and South America.

National restrictions on performing animals in travelling circuses, either wild or all animals, have been enacted in 27 countries – Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, and Taiwan. Similar laws are under discussion in the UK, Brazil, Chile, Malta, Mexico and The Netherlands.

Whether it is a traveling circus, or travel from county show to county show, the confinement for the animals is the same:

  • Traveling circuses cannot meet the physical, psychological or behavioral needs of wild animals, due to severe confinement, physical and social deprivation, long periods of time in transporters, with brutal control methods and physical violence.
  • It is a myth that wild animals are trained with kindness and reward; the tools of the trade include stun guns and other electric prods, metal bars, whips, bullhooks (a heavy bar with a sharpened point and hook), deprivation of food and water and intimidation.
  • Keeping stressed, large and dangerous wild animals close to the public in lightweight, temporary enclosures has proven disastrous. Workers and members of the public have been killed and maimed; lions, tigers and elephants have all escaped.
  • It is estimated that around 12% of Asian and 2% of African elephants in North America have tuberculosis (TB), a disease transmissible from elephants to humans.
  • Because of the traveling nature of the circus, animal welfare officers have difficulties with protecting the animals, inspections and associated time and costs. This justifies a restriction, for the protection of the animals and the public.
  • Circuses must change with the times. Human only circuses are thriving. Cirque du Soleil now has 19 shows in 271 cities, generating an estimated $810 million a year. Whereas the wild animal traveling show, Piccadilly Circus, recently canceled performances across Southern California due to poor ticket sales.
  • Circus workers perform multiple roles; staff can be retrained, so jobs are not lost. Circus Vargas removed their animal acts and the business continues. Surveys have shown that a decline in animal circuses can be matched by a rise in circuses with human performers.

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