The following essay will introduce elephants and their plight as a species, but will focus on the suffering of circus elephants.Circuses are major culprits of elephant exploitation.
In a vegan world, animals would interact with humans when and if they want to, not because they are chained to a stake or trapped in a cage.
Animal rights is not about bigger cages or more humane training methods; it's about not using or exploiting animals for food, clothing, or entertainment.
Attention has focused on elephants because they are considered by many to be highly intelligent, are the largest circus animals, may be the most abused, and arguably suffer more in captivity than smaller animals.
However, animal rights is not about ranking or quantifying suffering, because all sentient beings deserve to be free.
The animal welfare position is that humans have a right to use animals, but cannot harm animals gratuitously and must treat them "humanely." What is considered "humane" varies greatly.
Many animal welfare advocates consider fur, foie gras, and cosmetics testing to be frivolous uses of animals, with too much animal suffering and not much benefit to humans.In the United States, the federal Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act would ban the use of nonhuman primates, elephants, lions, tigers, and other species in circuses, but has not been passed yet. A lawsuit against Ringling Brothers was dismissed based on a finding that plaintiffs did not have standing; the court did not rule on the cruelty allegations.While some animal advocates want to regulate the use of animals in circuses, circuses with animals will never be considered completely cruelty-free.Elephants in circuses are not cared for properly and often experience abuse.The purpose of this essay is to not only point out these cruelties, but to discuss how we can change the fate of elephants in circuses worldwide.Even if the circuses did not engage in cruel training or extreme confinement methods (zoos generally do not engage in cruel training or extreme confinement, but still violate the animals' rights), animal rights advocates would oppose the use of animals in circuses because of breeding, buying selling and confining animals violates their rights. is governed by the Animal Welfare Act, which offers only the bare minimum of protection and does not prohibit the use of bullhooks or electric prods.Bolivia was the first country in the world to ban animals in circuses. The United Kingdom has banned the use of "wild" animals in circuses, but allows "domesticated" animals to be used. states have banned animals in circuses, at least seventeen towns have banned them. Other laws, like the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act protect certain animals, such as elephants and sea lions.Many would support a ban on "wild" or "exotic" animals in circuses.With elephants, the abuse begins when they are babies to break their spirits.Some animal welfare advocates would say that eating meat is morally acceptable as long as the animals were raised and slaughtered "humanely." Regarding circuses, some animal welfare advocates would support keeping animals in circuses as long as training methods are not too cruel.Los Angeles recently banned the use of bullhooks, a sharp tool that is used as punishment in training elephants.