The program begins with footage of an elephant going berserk in a city location and needing to be shot several times in order to protect the public. It tool 5 minutes for the animal to die. Matt begins the discussion saying that, "this is what happens in extreme cases to elephants when they have been abused for years and years and years. They use pain, punishment and dominance to control these animals in circuses. And sometimes they snap."|
Matt continues discussing the gross mistreatment of animals in captivity, referring mostly to the circus industry and their treatment of elephants during their training process.
According to Matt, captivity itself is abuse, especially for such large and intelligent animals, who do not have sufficient space to move around in and are kept caged for days at a time en route from city to city.
"These elephants live miserable lives. Ringling is in town right now. Ringling elephants travel most of the year, being chained up in box cars for up to 100 hours at a time.....the only time they are allowed to move around is during those short performances.......whistle blowers have come forward, former workers and documented a systematic, routine abuse of these animals, where they are beaten, hooked with bull hooks. The weapon used by these trainers is a short wood or metal pole with a sharp metal hook on the end. They use them to jab sensitive areas of their skin; they use the sight of the bull hook to create fear in the animal and that is how they get them to do these stupid tricks."
According to Matt, though the skin of an elephant is an inch thick in most places, there are areas where the skin is much thinner and the trainers know these locations and target them in order to control the animals. The major problem in circuses and in zoos is a lack of movement. "What we know about elephants in the wild is that they are very intelligent, social, and movement is so much of who an elephant is. It's that movement and that walking that maintains their health, their physical health and their emotional health. So what you see when they are held in a tiny enclosure...they suffer from foot and joint problems that follow them through life. Elephants in captivity are dying prematurely."
Speaking about the intelligence and sensitivity of elephants, Matt says that through their feet, "they can hear vibrations from miles away, and that's how they can know where other elephants are. In some ways they have not even begun to understand all the ways they can communicate. We also know that elephants in the wild even morn the loss of their dead, they actually visit ancestral graves of generations previous. They are very matriarchal.... aunties help raise the young........" "At Ringling and other circuses they take the babies away before they are through nursing so they can start this abusive treatment." Elephants in the wild will nurse their young for up to two years.
Later in the program Matt provides whistle blower footage of the mistreatment of elephants he has been describing. The footage portrays both the physical and emotional abuse used to train these animals.
Discussion of Circus Animal Abuse