Elephants are some of the most fascinating animals on the planet. They’re incredibly large but have such an elegance and grace about them that it is easy to see one and wonder how they are even able to exist. In addition to their awe-inspiring appearance, elephants are also extremely intelligent and emotional creatures. Unfortunately, many of these intriguing characteristics are what has led us to imprison elephants and use them for the sake of our entertainment, especially in circuses.

Compared to the dynamic life they would experience in the wild, life in a circus is none at all for elephants. In order for them to be rendered submissive enough to perform tricks and unnatural feats, they are subjected to extreme abuse to the point that they lose their will to fight back. To reinforce this fear, trainers use painful bullhooks and other methods to keep elephants in check. When they’re not performing, these animals are left chained for hours on end. Clearly, the fun that the circus appears to be on the exterior is anything but for the animals inside.

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Thankfully, there are many organizations working to free elephants and other animals from this sad existence, one being Wildlife SOS. 

Wildlife SOS is currently working to rescue all of India’s remaining circuses elephants and give them a better life in their sanctuary. In 2013, India instated a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, however, many of the elephants have remained in the care of their former captors – forced to live in the same inhumane conditions, only this time, without the breaks to put on a performance.

In 2016, Wildlife SOS set out to free all 67 of the elephants remaining in circuses across the country and with their most recent successful rescue of four elephants, they have successfully reduced that number to 55 – with plans to get it down to zero over time.
The four elephants, named Pearl, Ruby, Goldie, and Sylvie, were rescued from Rambo Circus in Pune, Maharashtra, following a two day and a night-long operation by a rescue team from Wildlife SOS in coordination with FIAPO, PETA, Police and Forest Department.

Elephants chained in both front and hind legs

“It was shocking to witness the inhumane conditions that the elephants were kept in, shackled by spiked chains and denied any chance at a natural life. The elephants in this circus were a priority as they were in terrible distress” said Geeta Seshamani co-founder Wildlife SOS in a press release.
Feet in a terrible state

Despite the standing ban on wild animal circuses, Rambo Circus continued to display these elephants. Thankfully, the circus was discovered and reported to the Central Zoo Authority after the horrifying details of the poor animal welfare conditions the animals lived in were exposed. From there, this conglomerate of organizations were  free to rescue Ruby, Goldie, Sylvie, and Pearl.

Rhea Lopez, Elephant Campaign Manager for Wildlife SOS explained, “While in the circus, the elephants were restrained by both front and back legs even they weren’t performing and were given no opportunity to exercise and no access to fresh water which is mandatory under the law. The mental and physical health status of these elephants is very poor.”

Elephants chained and standing in their own feces at the circus

Luckily, this sorry existence is over for these four elephants! Wildlife SOS has since named this new little herd, the Precious Four and they are currently on their way to the organization’s elephant rescue center. There is nothing that makes us happier than knowing the days of suffering are all over for these animals!

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You can help Wildlife SOS care for these elephants and fund efforts to rescue more by making a donation, here.

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All image source: Wildlife SOS