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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

8 March 2001 Fact Sheet

Making a Difference:
Zoo Workers In Texas Caught "Breaking" Elephant

Fall 1999 AIP was involved in reporting this abuse of an elephant, Sissy. Along with many other AR newsletters and individuals across the country, we were able to make a difference.

We reported this and our readers responded with many protest letters.

El Paso Zoo workers were caught on video viciously beating an elephant named Sissy with wooden bats. Three of her legs were held down by chains and the forth was tied to a bar. At the start of the "breaking session" Sissy was hit repeatedly for no reason. The workers held the bats over their heads and hit her with all their might while she was completely defenseless. The beating session lasted several hours. If Sissy did not react to a command within 2 seconds the beatings began. Two times, she was hit so hard that her legs buckled underneath her and she fell to the ground. Such beatings are typical breaking and training methods for these magnificent animals even though the Federal Animal Welfare Act prohibits physical or psychological abuse for training and handling.


I went to El Paso yesterday and made an appeal to the City Council to allow Sissy, the elephant, to retire to the Elephant Sanctuary ( Footage of Sissy being beaten with thick wooden clubs recently aired on local and national TV (see update at

It looks like the city council will allow Sissy to retire to the sanctuary where she will finally live in peace---free from physical and psychological abuse.

However, please continue to write POLITE letters to the Mayor and City Council Members until this decision is official (which will take place next Tuesday). Thank you so much!!

For the animals, Jane Garrison PETA [email protected]  

The other Good News is that there are lots of hard working animal advocates in El Paso working to change conditions at the El Paso Zoo, working to send Dave Zucconi to a sanctuary for misguided zoo directors (or just get him fired so he doesn't perpetuate the notion that animals must be beaten to show them who is the boss).

David subsequently lost his job <smiles>

UPDATE: Sissy 1/28/00

At 12 noon Wednesday the truck arrived at the Elephant Sanctuary ( ) with Sissy. The trailer backed into the entrance to the barn (where Sissy will remain for a few days).

When the doors to the truck were opened, Sissy started to back out. However, her insecurity and fear of humans delayed her coming out of the trailer for almost an hour. Several times she started backing out and changed her mind. When she was finally ready, Sissy stepped out of the trailer.

The abuse she had been through was evident by the way she feared everything. Barbara, the elephant, was the first elephant let into Sissy's stall (the others were all outside playing). Every time Barbara went near Sissy, Sissy turned her back. This is the way elephants who are afraid protect themselves.

Barbara was being so sweet and gentle and kept trying to caress Sissy. Eventually (after about 2 hours), Sissy allowed Barbara to touch her face--a gesture that says "I'm your friend and won't hurt you."

At about 4:00, the other elephants were allowed in the barn to meet their new friend. As the four elephants walked into the barn and smelled Sissy, the trumpets and grumbles filled the air. The 4 elephants were separated from Sissy by an entire stall (so not to scare Sissy). Three of the elephants (Jenny, Shirley and Bunny) were so anxious to meet Sissy that Carol (Director of the Sanctuary) opened the gate allowing them to be closer (but still separated by bars).

The next picture was adorable. Three trunks were sticking out through the bars trying desperately to touch Sissy! But, Sissy kept her distance by at least 20 feet. After a very short time, Sissy backed up to the bars to allow the 3 elephants to sniff her.

The next hour was purely magical. They were all touching, sniffing, communicating and reassuring Sissy. Within a few minutes Sissy allowed then to touch her face. They were putting their trunks in her mouth and ear and caressing her eyes. The gentleness and love the elephants showed their new, frightened friend was like nothing I have ever seen. A happy ending to a tragic story...

source: GarrisonMJ - PETA

What a beautiful ending. Remember we all are empowered. Don't loose track of your own individual power. One person can make a difference.

Write. Protest. Speak up for the voiceless

Return to Animals in Print 8 Mar 2001 Fact Sheet

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