Queenie, an Asian elephant who spent her entire life in captivity, has died at Georgia's Wild Adventures Water and Theme Park at age 59.
Queenie was only 6 months old when her owner began training her to water ski—yes, water ski—at a Florida theme park. For 15 years in the '50s and '60s, Queenie performed three or four times a day, accompanied by blasting music.
She was then sold to a traveling elephant act and then sold and resold over and over again before ending her sad days at Wild Adventures.
While water-skiing elephants may be a thing of the past, elephants in circuses today lead lives equally as bereft as Queenie's. Baby elephants used by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus are torn away from their frantic mothers to be broken and trained for a life of servitude.
They spend decades in chains, trying to avoid being hit with bullhooks.