Doesn’t this elephant look really happy?
Elephants are beautiful creatures. They are extremely social, intelligent, have a long memory span, and have the largest brain in the animal kingdom.
Elephant are used in circuses, county fairs, roadside amusements, and Renaissance Festivals. I want to focus on the Renaissance Festival in this post, but for information on animals being used in circuses, click here.
I went to the Renaissance Festival a few years ago for the first time in years and while walking around enjoying, myself all of a sudden in the middle of all of the thousands of people, there was an elephant. This elephant was hooked to a ride concoction with his head down. He was there for people to ride on.
For the rest of my time at the Renaissance Festival, I could not get my mind off of this elephant. Everyone is just going about their day and here is this suffering elephant there for our entertainment. It was ripping out my heart. I decided there & then I would not be back to the Renaissance Festival again until they stop using them (and other animals). As soon as I arrived home, I emailed them letting them know this too. I did not get a reply back and it will probably not make any difference until others speak up too.
When I was looking for a picture of an elephant at a Renaissance Festival, just about every single picture showed a human standing next them with that “thing” in their hand (see the picture above). Here is a portion of an article taken from the Animal Legal Defense Fund:
The only way to get a multiton elephant to perform the ridiculously contrived and unnatural tricks you see in the circus, or to be conditioned to walk in circles to provide rides at county fairs and roadside amusements, is through the constant threat of physical punishment. Elephants do not perform for peanuts. Indeed, exhibitors who use elephants for entertainment brandish a firepoker-like device known as a “bullhook” or “ankus” to strike and jab elephants in the most sensitive parts of their bodies. While the worst abuses take place during training behind closed doors, elephant handlers are never seen without their bullhooks during performances because the mere presence of the bullhook is a reminder to the elephant of the pain that awaits her if she doesn’t do as commanded.
I need to pause for a minute…revisiting this topic and writing about it is starting to make me emotional, mostly outraged, angry, and sad. Why do humans do these things to animals? How can we allow this to happen?
Here is a portion of an article from a Star Tribune newspaper article:
Decadeslong studies show that elephants are social, caring, altruistic beings with complex emotions and an intelligent system of communication; they understand present, past and future; they are self-recognizing, and as in the adage, never forget. Like us, every elephant is an individual with a distinct personality.
I saw a post advertisement for our local Renaissance Festival in the Newsfeed of Facebook. I commented on how we should not use elephants (or any animals) there or anywhere for our entertainment. A few of the replies I received were “My daughter & I rode on the elephant at the Renaissance Festival last year and when we got off, we both said how unhappy the elephant looked”, “I think so too and that is why I will not be going back.” (Yipee!!! Please don’t go back!)
Elephants are being taken from their natural habitat (and family), beaten into submission for OUR entertainment, and then chained down afterwards.
Here is another portion of the article from the Star Tribune:
We are a proud, progressive society. Can’t we enjoy our celebration of history without involving an abused elephant? After all, does riding in a circle on the back of an elephant really make us feel better? Or does it simply contribute to the devastating cruelty?
These elephants will suffer until we step in. I personally have chosen not to go to circuses, county fairs, the Renaissance Festival or anywhere else they use animals for entertainment. If you do not want to make that same choice, would you at least consider saying something to the employees or the event company and ask them to NOT use animals. And spread the word by sharing this post (to help animals, not to help me).
Elephants (and all animals) should be living their life everyday like the elephant pictured on the top of this post and like the elephant in the video below!