Elephants are incredibly intelligent and emotional creatures. In the wild they have dynamic lives and play an integral role in forming their ecosystems. In captivity, however, these amazing beings are reduced to show props, tortured to “learn” tricks, and kept in facilities that can hardly replicate their wild habitats. We have become familiar with the suffering experienced by elephants in the circus, particularly that of the elephants used in Ringling Brothers and Barnam and Bailey shows.

PETA recently reported that after Dr. Philip K. Ensley, a board-certified veterinarian who served as the associate vet for the Zoological Society of San Diego for 29 years, observed the elephants this month while the circus was in Denver he found that four of the elephants were suffering from foot problems.

Ringling’s elephants, Karen, Nicole, Rudy, and Kelly Ann all suffer from chronic foot problems which are the leading cause of euthanasia for captive elephants. Karen and Nicole exhibit signs of arthritis, Nicole also has a painful nail abscess, and all of the elephants have cracks in their toe nails which can lead to harmful conditions.

Karen’s cracked toe nail/PETA


Elephants develop arthritis and foot lesions from standing on hard concrete surfaces for extended periods of time which often happens in captivity. If these conditions become to painful for the elephant to sustain their own weight they become completely lame and are euthanized.  Since 1992, 30 elephants have died in the care of Ringling Brothers and these four elephants could sadly be added to that statistic if nothing is done to help them.

Nicole’s nail abscess/PETA


Dr. Ensley and PETA are calling Ringling to stop forcing Nicole, Karen, Rudy, and Kelly Ann to perform. If given enough time to rest and proper treatment, their foot lesions can heal. Doing tricks, like having to stand up on their hind legs, will only cause further damage to the elephant’s feet and legs. Not only this, but it is being advised that the elephants should stop traveling with the circus.

Share this post to help spread the word for these four ailing elephants and join our campaign against Ringling Brothers and Barnam and Bailey. Remember the best way to help these elephants – and the other animals suffering in the circus – is to stop buying tickets!

Lead image source: Wikimedia Commons