Training circus animals involves physically punishing them. These training practices generally will be hidden from public view make the audiences believe these animals want to and are willing to perform. Because these animals have been conditioned through violent training sessions, they know that refusal to obey in the ring will result in severe punishment later. Moments before entering the ring, while just outside of public view, trainers may give the elephants painful whacks or blows to remind them who’s in control and to ensure that the elephants perform the specified tricks on command.
Animals in the circus are routinely whipped, beaten with long metal rods, shocked with electric prods, and struck with clubs. Trainers often strike elephants with a bullhook or an ankus on the sensitive areas of their skin such as around their eyes, under their chin, inside their mouth, and behind their knees and ears. A bullhook is also sometimes used to hit animals across the face. Bears have their noses broken and their paws burned to teach them to walk on their hind legs. Carson & Barnes trainers have even been documented using blowtorches on elephants. Circuses easily get away with these cruel practices because no government agency monitors training sessions.
After seeing an elephant show at my local county fair, I realized the use of bullhooks in shows is more prevalent than I thought. The audience doesn't seem to notice the small but powerful jabs of the hook and it just shows how oblivious we are to what goes on in the circus business. This page is to end the use of animals preforming in circuses, it isn't limited to just elephants. The Ringling Brothers have behind the scenes footage of abuse towards lions, jaguars, monkeys, and other animals as well. Together, we can help stop circus animal abuse.