A reportedly "startled" elephant kicked a circus trainer or groom so hard that he was thrown 20 feet and died of his injuries at the scene. The attack occurred backstage at a Shrine Circus performance Friday evening in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
The elephant involved is believed to be an African elephant named Dumbo, who was captured in Africa in 1985 and belongs to Terry Frisco. PETA has previously caught Terry's brother, Tim Frisco, beating elephants behind-the-scenes.
No word yet on whether circus mouthpieces are attempting to claim that the elephant was "playing" with the trainer, but if a "startled" elephant can be this dangerous, imagine the damage that a really angry elephant can inflict. It makes the video that we told you about last week—in which a trainer with the Liebel Family Circus holds a toddler in one hand as she uses a bullhook in the other to jabs an elephant with a bullhook in the other—all the more harrowing.
This isn't the first time that an elephant has lethally lashed out at the guy wielding the bullhook, and it almost certainly won't be the last. Circuses rely on an abusive training regimen that starts with beatings and intimidation from the time that elephants are still babies and doesn't stop until they've performed their last headstand. Is it any wonder that some of these gentle giants eventually get fed up and fight back?
PETA has been trying to convince the Shriners to stop using animal circuses as fundraisers for years to no avail, despite the fact that their circuses are connected to a growing list of dangerous and deadly incidents involvingwith wild animals connected to its circuses. Last year, two elephants performing at the Murat Shrine Circus in Indianapolis, Indiana, knocked down a mobile staircase during elephant rides, resulting in a dozen children being treated by paramedics.
In 2005, a trainer was stomped to death by an elephant used in a Shrine Circus in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 2002 and again in 2003, elephants bolted from the Shrine Circus tents and went on rampages in Wisconsin and Michigan, respectively. It's sad to think that this tragic list of deaths and injuries has failed t o make them Shriners come to their senses.