Ringling Unloads Old, Ailing Elephants

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Zina and Jewel, two aging elephants who have spent nearly their entire lives with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (Jewel since 1954 and Zina since 1972), have been "donated" by the circus to the Little Rock Zoo. Some "retirement": The Little Rock Zoo still uses the cruel and archaic free-contact system to control elephants, which means that Zina and Jewel have not escaped the bullhooks and chains.

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In testimony during a trial to answer charges that Ringling's elephant handling practices violated the federal Endangered Species Act, the circus's general manager admitted Zina and Jewel (and five other elephants) were all chained by two legs in a concrete barn at Ringling's Florida breeding and "retirement" center for 16 hours a day. Another witness testified that he had to cover more than 20 oozing wounds with Wonder Dust (a gray powder used to camouflage wounds) after Zina was beaten with a bullhook.

Considering the long hours spent chained on hard concrete floors, it's no wonder that Jewel is suffering from severe arthritis. Many of the elephants used by Ringling have joint problems, like Sara, who is far younger than Jewel but already suffering from painful lameness, which will likely lead to arthritis as she ages.

Ringling raked in millions of dollars over the decades that it hauled these elephants around the country, but instead of retiring them to a sanctuary, the circus "rewarded" them by dumping them at a zoo for more years of exploitation.

Please never buy a ticket to the circus, and ask the Little Rock Zoo to stop using bullhooks and chains on elephants.

Written by Jennifer O'Connor


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