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Home Misleading Circus Cruelty to Animals Protest Message – Baby Elephant Photograph

Circus Cruelty to Animals Protest Message – Baby Elephant Photograph

by Brett M. Christensen


Circulating message protesting the cruel treatment of circus elephants features as evidence a photograph of a baby elephant beside its mother. 

Brief Analysis

The continued use of animals in circus acts is certainly controversial and the often cruel treatment of circus animals has – quite rightly – been the subject of ongoing condemnation by animal protection groups around the world. However, as a protest, this message fails rather dismally. The elephants in the photograph are not cruelly treated circus elephants at all but rather a mother and baby being tended by curators soon after the baby’s birth at Oregon Zoo in 2008.


Baby elephant protest message

Baby elephants are taken from their mothers, often at the cost of the mother’s life because a mother elephant does not give up her baby easily. The babies are beaten nonstop to break their will, then go through a training process of more cruelty and abuse. That is how they get a 10,000-pound elephant to perform the unnatural tricks they do for the audience’s pleasure.

EDUCATE YOURSELVES!!! Circuses are hell on earth for animals!!! – Trainers use bullhooks, whips, sticks, circus animal cruelty electric prods, and other tools that intentionally cause pain and injury in order to force animals to perform. Undercover footage of behind-the-scenes training shows elephants beaten with bullhooks and shocked with electric prods, big cats dragged by heavy chains around their neck and hit with sticks, bears whacked and prodded with long poles, and chimpanzees kicked and hit with riding crops. Trainers have to break their spirit; they have to tear the animal down psychologically before the trainers can actually teach them “tricks.” This type of training is usually done when the circus animal cruelty elephant is just a baby. However, there are instances where grown elephants are taken from the wild and “broken.” This is done by restraining the elephant with short chains to a small area as someone repeatedly beats the animal with a bullhook.


Detailed Analysis

This message, which is currently circulating rapidly around Facebook, protests the cruel and abusive treatment of elephants and other animals in circuses.

The message describes how baby elephants are taken away from their mothers and beaten to break their will before being mercilessly trained to perform for circus audiences. As evidence, and to highlight its claims, the protest message features a photograph of a baby elephant beside its mother along with two men.

The clear implication in the message is that the attached photograph depicts circus trainers about to remove the baby from its mother as described in the protest.
Certainly, the treatment of circus animals has been a matter of grave concern for animal protection organizations around the world for many years. The continued use in circuses of elephants and other animals has been roundly condemned by such organizations, with good reason. The issue has been widely debated over many years.

That said, however, this particular protest message has a fatal flaw that effectively destroys its credibility. The photograph which forms the primary focus of the message does not depict a baby elephant about to be hauled off by cruel circus trainers at all.

In fact, the image depicts then baby Samudra with his mother Rose-Tu, much loved – and well treated – residents of the Oregon Zoo in Portland. The men in the photographs are zoo curators, not circus trainers and the baby elephant is simply being weighed. The same photograph is featured on the Oregonian Gallery website with the following caption:

Gilbert Gomez, assistant curator, left and Dimas Dominguez, elephant keeper, get a good grip on the Oregon Zoo’s new baby elephant as they weigh him Thursday, August 28, 2008. He weighed 284 pounds. Rose-Tu, background, gave birth to the little guy on Saturday, August 23, 2008.

More images and videos depicting Samudra and Rose-Tu are featured on the Oregon Zoo website.

Moreover, despite the implication in the message that the baby elephant in the photograph was about to be taken away from his mother, both Samudra and his mother still reside at the zoo. And an October 2011 KATU.com news article reported that Rose-Tu was again pregnant.

However heartfelt or relevant a protest message might be, it loses credibility and greatly diffuses its effectiveness if it is based on false or misleading information, as this one is. The text of the protest message has apparently been lifted from other online resources and tacked onto the photograph.

Given that some simple research reveals a great many images of young elephants being harshly trained for circus acts, it seems rather curious that the creator of this protest message has used an image that is not related to circuses at all.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,