Issues Facing Elephants in Captivity
Captive elephants are often held alone, forced into a solitary life that goes against the highly social nature of their species. They are social beings that need the company of other elephants to thrive mentally and physically. When held solitary, they suffer great loneliness much like humans. This compounded with the physical abuse can, and does, often drive them mad to the point of going rogue. It is cruel and causes great suffering.
[ Vet Report #1 ] [ Vet Report #2 ] Most captive elephants have chronic health problems, including but not limited to painful degenerative joint disease, foot rot from standing in their own urine and feces, diarrhea and unmanaged hyperkeratosis (abnormal thickening of the skin) that can form deep, bacteria infected, fissures. Nosey the elephant was a good example, living in physical and psychological pain for years. Read the attached Vet Reports about Nosey.
Much of a traveling elephants life is spent confined in inappropriate, small trailers.
and towed from one venue to the next with little relief or exercise. It has been reported that elephants spend up to 97% of their lives confined. While not performing, they are on the road in boxcars, chained up unable to move, or behind electrified fencing in very small areas.
Most circus and zoo elephants show signs of excessive use of chains in calloused skin, bloody sores and scarring on the lower legs. This practice limits their abilities to properly exercise their joints. It also indicates lack of attention on the part of their keepers.
The bull hook is a heavy instrument with a sharp pointed tip used to jab, poke and beat the elephants. It resembles a fireplace poker. The “free contact” management practiced by circuses and many zoos requires constant use of the bull hook. Such practices are considered outdated and abusive by many experts in elephant management.
Captive elephants are often seen exhibiting stiffness in their joints, indicating arthritis that was likely brought on by their confined lifestyle. Arthritis is one of the leading causes of death in captive elephants. Elephants in the wild are used to walking great distances every day. In the wild, elephants do not suffer arthritis like captive elephants do. Their lifespan is greatly reduced in captivity because of this.
Forced to Give Rides
Forced to Perform
Many captive elephants have spent their entire lives performing in circuses across the United States. On top of elephant rides and confined living spaces, this can cause further stress to their health and psychological well-being. Elephants must go through a “breaking” that tortures them into submission to perform. Long periods of severe beatings with the bull hook, sledge hammers, electric prods inserted into sensitive areas such as the anus, withholding food and water, loud music, stretching with ropes and keeping babies from their mothers is the breaking process. Sooner or later, they give in and do whatever the handlers demand of them. The fear of more beatings keep them in line. They are so intelligent that they know just by looking at the bull hook what lies ahead if they do not perform up to standards.
In addition to the constant threat of the bullhook, captive zoo and circus elephants have suffered physical abuse at the hands of their owners, witnessed and cited over the years by citizens and authorities alike. Tools of torture used include shovels, axes, electric shock, bats, and chains.
Google “Elephant Abuse”.
Elephants in captivity do not get the proper diet as they would in their natural habitats in the wild. They need a diet of various greens, vegetables, and fruits, but circuses often do not take the time to give them what they need to physically thrive. The volume of food is often lacking as well. Elephants can eat anywhere from 300lbs to 600lbs of food every day. They drink massive amounts of water, possibly 50 gallons a day. Often they are fed carbonated drinks and circus food by circus patrons at the urging of their handlers. Many elephants are deprived of food and water to make them obey and so that they will not defecate or urinate during rides or performances.
Exposure to Extreme Temperatures
While traveling every circus season, elephants are stuffed into cramped trailers, often held inside for many hours at a time. In the hot summer months, the temperature inside these containers can reach over 100 degrees. In the winter months, the temperatures can get to freezing. They are exposed to extreme temperatures every season. Often they are made to stand out in the blazing sun and have no access to shade while giving rides or performing. Many zoo elephants suffer the same problems.
Violations of the Animal Welfare Act
Ways You Can Help Captive North American Elephants
Make a Phone Call:
Contact the following authorities and let them know how unconscionable it is that they allow Elephants to continue to suffer.
1) Sonny Perdue | US Secretary of Agriculture: 202-720-3631
2) Kevin Shea | USDA Deputy Administrator: 202-799-7000
3) Bernadette Juarez | APHIS Deputy Administrator: 301-851-3751
4) Phyllis Fong | USDA Inspector General: 202-720-8001
5) Kara Hooker | Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC): 850-488-6253
6) Loren Lowers | FWC: 850-717-2101 or 850-252-1390
7) Mark Warren | FWC: 850-617-9592
A Few Quick Facts About Nosey the Elephant
We’ve listed the issues Nosey the elephant faced in her past situation, here are ways you can help with other captive elephants that suffer much the same. Here are a few quick facts about Nosey. For more details read our history on her.
- Born in Zimbabwe: Nosey was born in Zimbabwe before being wild-caught at 2 years old.
- Age: Nosey is about 36 years old — prime of life for an elephant in the wild!
- Different Names: Other names Nosey has gone by include Tiny, Peanut, and Dumbo.
- Sanctuary: Nosey was an excellent candidate for retirement to any of the true elephant sanctuaries in the United States: The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, PAWS in California, or Elephant Refuge North America in Georgia. The circumstances surrounding her seizure in Alabama brought her to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee where she is finally able to be an elephant!
- Celebrities for Nosey: Kim Basinger, Cher, Ricky Gervais, Olivia Munn and others have spoken out. Sam Simon even offered to buy her. Members of Congress and state legislators have written on her behalf.
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Save Nosey Now, Inc., is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) charitable organization (EIN 82-0815762). Your donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.