Elephants suffer for human entertainment

by: MALLORY CARVER/ News Editor

Zoos and circuses provide a popular form of entertainment for families.

To society, nothing is more precious than watching an unhappy animal—which has been excessively mistreated—being held captive for the public’s entertainment.

Many people have seen the documentary movie, “Black Fish” and have been enraged by the mistreatment of aquatic animals. But whales are not the only animals that have been incredibly mistreated by humans. Elephants, one of earth’s most fascinating and intelligent animals, have been mistreated as much—if not more— than our captive aquatic animals. We, as the captors, must stop keeping animals as sources of entertainment.

We have all heard the expression, “memory like an elephant.” In fact, it has been proven that elephants do indeed have an almost uncanny ability to remember. Trainers who have abused their elephants are unlikely to ever regain the trust of their giant trainee. Nearly every elephant in captivity has a deep, and troubling story to tell.

The caretakers at the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, know this better than most. This non-profit organization is well-known for providing a home for elephants that have been either been labeled as useless, or as unmanageable by their former owners. The sanctuary is a home to many elephants that have been exposed to abuse in their lifetime. They are able to escape to this sanctuary to live out the rest of their lives in peace—on approximately 2,700 acres of land. One of the residents at the Hohenwald Sanctuary is an Indian Elephant named Billie.

Prior to settling down at the sanctuary, Billie was sold to the Hawthorn Corporation. The Hawthorn Corporation was known to buy and train elephants to later sell to zoos and circuses. As Billie suffered through more and more abuse at the hands of Hawthorn, she became more and more violent toward her trainers.

As punishment for her violence, Billie the elephant, part of a highly sociable species, was held in isolation from other elephants. Hawthorn was later charged with the mistreatment of their elephants. This is how Billie came to live at the sanctuary in February of 2006.

When she arrived at the sanctuary, she had a shackle around one of her legs that she had allowed no one to remove. It took nearly five years for Billie to allow her caretakers at the Elephant Sanctuary to remove her remaining trace of a past spent in abuse.

At the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, Billie is one of many elephants with a dark past. Most of the elephants seen in captivity were born in the wild. That means that all of those elephants had a chance of freedom. Unfortunately, humans ruined it, like we do so often.

Elephants are not the only animals that have been taken advantage of by people. Many animals are torn from their mothers and habitat at a young age in order to provide entertainment for people.

The mistreatment of innocent creatures must come to an end. It is not morally acceptable for a young animal of any kind to be torn from its mother at a premature age. Society has the power to stop funding organizations that ruin the lives of animals. It is as simple as refusing to endorse places where animals are kept on display for entertainment purposes. Maybe, in the future, the only place to see wild animals will be in their rightful place — their natural habitat.

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