Animal Rights Collective Blog

Circus Elephant Kills Trainer in Pennsylvania by christine
April 10, 2010, 3:23 pm
Filed under: AR News | Tags: , ,

by Stephanie Feldstein for April 10, 2010 12:37 PM (PT)

Dumbo, an elephant with the Irem Shrine Circus, stomped on his groomer, causing fatal injuries just a few hours before Friday’s performance in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Early reports said that Dumbo had been startled, perhaps by some electrical wires.

The investigation is in the hands of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Personally, I think it should be turned over to the humane society.

It was only six weeks ago that a SeaWorld trainer was killed by an orca. In both of these cases, the people were experienced, caring professionals. And, in both cases, the animals were animals. These incidents are passed off as “accidents,” but they’re no more an accident than a drunk driver running a red light and crashing into another car. Sure, the animals didn’t premeditate the murder of their caretakers, but they were set up from the day they were enlisted as performers.

Unlike SeaWorld, the circus doesn’t even bother with the pretense that the animals are there for any reason other entertainment. There is nothing about life under the Big Top that would make an animal want to run away with the circus. They’re taught to do unnatural tricks for human amusement, they endure abusive training practices, they’re kept in small enclosures and exposed to the overstimulation of crowds and spotlights, they travel around the country, through all kinds of climates, and like Dumbo, are often isolated from others of their species.

Putting wild animals under this level of stress in close quarters with humans is putting the drunk guy behind the wheel of the car. He might get lucky and make it home okay, but when disaster ensues, it’s really not that surprising.

The Irem Shrine Circus still performed last night. A spokesman said, “We’ve asked the circus if they wanted to perform tonight and as true performers they wanted the show to go on.” I’m betting that they didn’t ask the 11 tigers and one lion how they felt about continuing to perform.

The U.K. just banned the use of wild animals in circuses after learning that 95 percent of the population thought it was cruel. Even Nabisco has uncaged its animal crackers; this month, they’re doing away with the old red box with circus animals behind bars in favor of a more humane design by Lilly Pulitzer of free animals. The company is also making a $100,000 donation to WWF (now they just need to ditch the “Barnum” name on the package).

The Shrine Circus reduced their animal acts this year to keep costs down. So, keeping wild animals for entertainment is unprofitable, unpopular, and inhumane. And, as recent news shows, it can be deadly for employees. What will it take for the industry to change?

CNN – Elephant Kills Trainer at Pennsylvania Circus


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