Routine everyday work at the Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida, USA: An elephant calf is tied to the ground and is surrounded by guards who mistreat it with ropes and sticks. It is inconceivable that these shocking scenes are taking place under the guise of “elephant protection”. The fact of the matter is that behind this cruel procedure lies a traditional entertainment industry.
The operator of the center is the American Ringling Brother Circus who uses this facility for breeding and dressage of his circus elephants. In the photos, you can see how the animals are separated immediately after birth from their mothers and trained for the circus shows.
As part of the training a cruel instrument is used, which is known as the goad or ankus. At the head of this “animal tamer rod”, there are two blades, which are drilled directly into the elephant’s sensitive skin. The images are sad proof of the mental and physical torture inflicted on the elephants with this instrument. It comes as no surprise that this rod has been banned in several US states.
You can tell how painful dressage really is by the number of elephants who do not survive the procedure. The 8-month-old calf, Ricardo, had to be put down after it fell from a platform during training and broke its two legs. A few years earlier, a 3-year-old elephant drowned after it had fled to closeby water out of fear of his tamer’s dreaded rod.
It is because of these incidents being common knowledge and these images being published by former circus tamer, Sam Haddock, that the company, Ringling, has now terminated his elephant program. The retired elephants are supposedly just sent back to their place of martyrdom: the Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. Whether or not they continue to be trained there is unclear. According to the company, the animals are also supposedly used for cancer research. Nevertheless, elephants all around the world still continue to be trained in this cruel way. In Thailand, they typically refer to the dressage process as elephant crushing. This is because the will of the young animals is broken through beatings, sleep deprivation and starvation.