A circus troupe from Hanoi on a 10-day tour of Lao Cai province in Vietnam has been engulfed in controversy following the tragic death of an 11-year-old girl on October 16. A noted animal lover, the girl, Nguyen Thao Anh, attempted to feed an elephant some sugarcane before she was trampled to death.
If there were ever a reason to ban circuses in which animals are cruelly exploited, surely this is it. Reports of incidents in which elephants have trampled people to death are not uncommon in circuses, and even when they are chained, the animals still pose a threat to the general public.
What’s particularly heartbreaking about this incident is how easily it could have been avoided. When you remove animals from their natural surroundings and place them in captivity, the physical and mental frustration often lead to abnormal, neurotic, and even self-destructive behavior.
To prepare an animal of such impressive strength for a life of enslavement, the “training” process begins early. The still-nursing baby elephants are typically torn from away their mothers, bound with ropes, and immobilized in wooden cages. They are beaten mercilessly for days while being deprived of food, water, and sleep. Elephant “trainers” gouge them with nail-studded sticks, inserting the sharp points into the elephants’ ear canals and jabbing the sensitive skin between their toenails. The babies panic, collapse in exhaustion, defecate in fear, and scream in terror and pain.
When you combine this with a lifetime in chains, it’s no wonder that incidents like this continue to take place around the world. Remember: For as long as there have been elephants in captivity—especially in circuses—there have been elephant attacks on humans.
Hopefully the Vietnamese government will follow China’s lead and ban the performance of animals so that tragedies like this won’t occur in the future.
Posted by Ashley Fruno