Investigate Elephant Abuse at Popular Circus

Target: Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Goal: Inspect severely wounded elephant at Ringling Brothers’ Circus and assess any violations of animal protection laws

Besides its high-flying trapeze acts, Ringling Brothers Circus is also well known for its long history of animal cruelty. With a track record of abuse spanning nearly two decades, the inhumane circus has continued to flourish from its overt exploitation of elephants and tigers. Recent video footage of severely scarred elephants suggests the handlers are still employing brutal “training” methods, despite numerous citations from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The August 2014 video recording taken by concerned onlookers shows the elephants as they enter into an arena in Anaheim, California. One of the elephants can be seen with three distinct laceration marks on her side. PETA speculates this injury was caused either by a bullhook—a poking tool used to punish elephants during training—or unsafe transport vehicles. PETA further adds, “Ringling appears to have tried to cover up the wounds with a gray powder called ‘Wonder Dust,’ which the circus uses to conceal wounds inflicted with bullhooks.”

Beating elephants and denying them proper veterinary care is a breach of the Animal Welfare Act and is subject to criminal charges or fines. It is also a transgression that Ringling Brothers has been cited for in the past. Sign the petition below to urge the USDA to thoroughly investigate the treatment of these elephants. The more abuse that is exposed, the closer Ringling Brothers Circus comes to being shut down permanently.


Dear Mr. Vilsack,

As Secretary of Agriculture for the USDA, you have the unique ability to stop animal abuse from spreading. Ringling Brothers Circus has been cited many times by your organization for health and safety violations, including incidents where elephants were severely beaten with bullhooks and denied medical attention. Sadly, it seems a similar incident has taken place that requires further investigation by the USDA.

Video footage taken by a passerby shows an elephant with three distinct lacerations on its side. The wound seems to have been caused by a bullhook, and PETA pointed out that circus trainers tried to hide the wound with “Wonder Dust,” a common application for such injuries. Another possibility is that Ringling Brothers did not safely transport the elephants, resulting in the painful abrasions. Both instances are clear violations of the Animal Welfare Act and warrant punishment. This is not the first time the circus has performed these horrendous acts; hopefully a proper examination will make it the last time.

I urge you to consider the evidence presented thus far and investigate the Ringling Brothers Circus for animal cruelty. Please help end the cycle of abuse and save these creatures from blatant torture.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Sam Hood via State library of New South Wales via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Anne-Mari Gavin says:

    I am the Voice of the Voiceless
    Through me the dumb shall speak
    Till the world’s deaf ear be made to hear
    The wrongs of the wordless weak.
    Oh shame on the mothers of mortals
    Who do not stoop to teach
    The sorrow that lies in dear dumb eyes
    The sorrow that has no speech.
    From street, from cage, from kennel
    From stable and from zoo
    The wall of my tortured kin proclaims the sin
    Of the mighty against the frail.
    But I am my brother’s keeper …
    A good example of God’s displeasure at cruelty to animals is found in Proverbs 12:10: “The godly are concerned for the welfare of their animals, but even the kindness of the wicked is cruel.” God calls cruelty to animals wicked. Finally, God rebuked Balaam for beating his donkey, when that donkey was trying to save his life.
    “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey” (Numbers 22:32-33).

    Job 12:7,8,9 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:
    12:8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.
    12:9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?
    Thanks to those who care for God’s creatures. Be Blessed.

  2. Stop the torture of these majestic animals and let them live in peace. This needs to end now from the greedy people who make a living off of these beautiful elephants.

  3. Leslie Stanick says:

    Circuses are a place of animal torture and abuse. Ban the use of animals in circuses and roadside attractions. Elephants and tigers belong in the wild, or at the very least, in spacious sanctuaries.
    NOTE: Cirque de Soleil does not use animals in their amazing, magical circus acts…all the magic is created by humans. Not an elephant in sight! And they are regularly SOLD OUT! YAY for Cirque de Soleil!

    • In the past three years, 100,000 elephants in Africa have been poached. An astonishing number of elephants are here in the USA in circuses and sideshows—and the only way they can be made to perform is to beat and starve and torture them into submission. They will have no pride left, until one of them, like that poor, beautiful creature in a Florida circus, figures he/she has had just about enough, goes rogue, tramples and kills her brutal trainers and anyone else dumb enough to get in the way, and is eventually shot down in the street and dies. African elephants and PRISONER domestic elephants in grave danger—and in less than thirty years, there will be NO elephants left alive in the world. EXTINCT!

  4. End all animal circuses now and send all these animals to reputable animal sanctuaries!!!! Too many animals are becoming extinct, we need to protect every last animal in a sanctuary!

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