Elephants Forced to Entertain Tourists Through Pain and Fear
Imagine spending your entire life in captivity, being abused from a young age and forced to pose for selfies and perform tricks out of fear of being beaten. In order to make a quick profit, many zoos, so-called “sanctuaries”, and other animal “attractions” offer the unsuspecting public opportunities to interact with elephants.
No elephant wants to live in captivity and be forced to entertain crowds, so these facilities must first bully them into submission. Baby elephants are tied down and beaten with bullhooks – heavy rods with a sharp metal hook on one end – and other instruments designed to inflict pain until their spirits are broken and they’re willing to obey their “trainers” in order to avoid pain.
Make no mistake about it: bullhooks are weapons used to dominate elephants. There’s no benefit to the animals of such systematic abuse, even when it’s called “training”. It serves only one purpose: to teach them meaningless tricks. Elephants who are subjected to this “breaking” or “crushing” process often develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
PETA Germany visited Wuppertal Zoo, where African elephants are forced to participate in photo ops, give rides, and even take part in weddings. Handlers control every aspect of their daily routine and beat them with bullhooks if they don’t follow commands fast enough. Eyewitness footage shows one baby elephant, called Tuffy, looking scared and distressed as handlers beat him repeatedly.
Elephants are highly intelligent living beings with complex personalities. They would never choose to perform tricks or spend their days being photographed with tourists or wedding guests. They do so only because they know they’ll be tortured if they refuse to.
Staff members at the zoo also mistreat elephants for their own entertainment. Video footage shows one riding an elephant and another doing pull-ups on an elephant’s tusks. These animals don’t want to be treated like gym equipment – the only reason they tolerate this abuse is that they’re afraid of punishment.
What You Can Do
The cruelty shown in this footage is an example of the elephant abuse that takes place in many zoos across Europe and around the world. Animals should be never kept in zoos or used for entertainment in any other way. Being aware of the abuse behind animal attractions enables us to make informed choices and help end the cruelty by refusing to support it.
If you visited a facility like Wuppertal Zoo before you knew about the ways in which such exhibits mistreat animals, take the opportunity to tell your friends and family not to make the same mistake: