Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
3 October 1999 Issue

Out of Africa, Into Chains
By [email protected]

[From a letter written to Life Magazine]

Dear "LIFE",

I am writing about Life Magazine's Pro-Circus Article where this April's LIFE Magazine has a 6-page photo valentine to Ringling Brothers.

Below is just a sampling of the elephant deaths -- those who were circus slaves. Did you know that by the year 2 Thousand -- African elephants face extinction?

Kenya 13 F 4/98 Massive Injury
Kenny 3 M 1/98 * Forced to perform sick
* Then tied in chains by all four feet to 2 other baby elephants
* Died shortly after performance of Gastrointestinal Infection and Upper respiratory Infection?
Sneeze 27 F 12/97 Kidney Failure
Heather 8 F 8/97 Incompetent animal husbandry
Ola 40 F 3/97 Died after foot surgery
Unknown ? F 1997 Herpes Virus
Unknown ? F 1997 Herpes Virus
Tunga 32 M 9/96 Unknown
Hattie 27 F 8/96 Tuberculosis
Joyce 47 F 8/96 Tuberculosis
Bandula 30 F 6/96 Euthanized after suffering 26 years with arthritis
Stoney 21 M 8/95 Complications from a "Training-Injury"
Mary 50 + F 4/95 Collapsed and Died
Jockey 20 M 3/95 Shot to death
Rhonda 9 F 3/95 BURNED to death
Mike ? M 3/95 BURNED to death
Lois 24 F 1/95 Sepsis from infection
Sahib 20 M 1/95 Killed because he was "unmanageable", after years of physical abuse
Bombay 40 + F 1994 Unknown
Dumbo 43 F 12/94 Tuberculosis
Mona 26 F 10/94 Metabolic Disease

Hattie and Joyce were giving children rides just days before their deaths. Having our children and the general public exposed to communicable diseases, along with animals who have been physically and verbally abused -- taken away from their families and natural environment is asking for trouble.

Imagine having to live your life or the animals under the following conditions:

* Trainers using whips, jab you with electric prods, bull-hooks and use food deprivation to force you to do unnatural and even painful acts.
* Verbal and physical abuse is used daily as a teaching tool.
* Noses may be broken during training or their paws burned to be forced to stand on your hind legs.
* Newly captured elephants are "broken in" by being chained by all four feet and beaten daily.
* Elephants are chained in filthy railroad cars that are often left out in the sun in 90 to 100 degree weather or below freezing. Forced to travel thousands of miles for 48 to 50 weeks per year in cramped cages.
* Being forced to perform under bright, hot lights watched by a loud and screaming audience.
* Live your entire life in chains and a cage.

Animals perform under the threat of punishment and fear. Pain is pain, whether it is inflicted on man or animal. To use wild animals and abuse them for our entertainment is wrong. The frustrations of captivity leads to abnormal, self destructive behavior, including bar biting, pacing, head bobbing, swaying and self destruction. Animals should not be removed from their natural habitat. And people wonder why captive animals attack humans.

A performing elephants life is nothing like its counterpart's life in the wild. Wild elephants are gentle and benevolent. They live in herds, display complex social behavior and will walk 20 to 25 miles a day to find food and water. Excellent swimmers, they bathe daily whenever possible. Strong bonds exist between family members and there is a lifetime attachment between mothers and daughters.

Is it any wonder that after a lifetime of being chained, of separation from family living in filth and squalor, of training that consists primarily of physical abuse and intimidation and punishment, an elephant goes berserk?

How ironic that your magazine is called LIFE and that is exactly what these animals have been robbed of.

Please do a story from the side of the animals.


Susan Gensinger

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