|"The idea that it is funny to see wild animals coerced into acting like clumsy humans,
or thrilling to see powerful beasts reduced to cringing cowards by a whipcracking trainer is primitive and medieval. It stems
from the old idea that we are superior to other species and have the right to hold dominion over them." |
—Dr. Desmond Morris, anthropologist, animal behaviorist,
Behind the scenes, elephant trainer Tim Frisco instructs would-be trainers how to dominate elephants and make them perform
circus tricks. “Sink that hook into ’em. When you hear that screaming, then you know you got their attention.”
An elephant trumpets in agony as Frisco’s bullhook, with its sharp metal hook and spiked end, tears through her sensitive
skin. Frisco, a Carson & Barnes elephant trainer, learned the trade from his father, a former trainer for Ringling Bros.
and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Click here to watch the video.
The fact is, animals do not naturally ride bicycles,
stand on their heads, balance on balls, or jump through rings of fire. To force them to perform these confusing and physically
uncomfortable tricks, trainers use whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, bullhooks, and other painful tools of the
We applaud trapeze artists, jugglers, clowns, tightrope walkers, and acrobats, but let’s leave animals
in peace. Sweden, Austria, Costa Rica, India, Finland, and Singapore have all
banned or restricted the use of animals in entertainment—it’s time for the U.S. to do the same.