Friday, July 13, 2007

It's Only An Elephant

That's a classy elephant hat.
Most people genuinely enjoy going to the circus, and are content to guiltlessly sit in the stands, eating their nachos and drinking their Bud Light, never thinking too deeply about what they see in front of them or what will happen when the circus folds up its tents, packs all of its clowns into a tiny car, and rolls to the next town.
Unfortunately, we here at HPO fall into the same category. We love going to the big top to watch the panda bear lift weights, the monkey juggle pineapples, and the dog get shot out of a cannon, for no reason other than it simply being funny. It is true comedy, and it certainly has no place amongst the refined.
But last night, we stumbled upon evidence that Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, famously branded as "The Greatest Show on Earth," is guilty of regularly abusing its show elephants.
These bizarre and disturbing accusations come from former employees of the circus, who presumably have had extensive behind-the-scenes experience with these large animals. But before we dig too deeply into the scandal, let's take a closer look at the clumsy, pale-blue nature of elephus maximus, known to his friends as the Asian Elephant.
Here are some facts about Asian elephants:
  • Native to India, Sri Lanka, and Indochina.
  • Endangered species (about 30,000 left in the wild)
  • Weigh around 10,000 pounds
  • Easily domesticated and used for moving heavy objects, harvesting crops, and ceremonial purposes
  • Live for around 70 years
  • They eat several hundred pounds of food a day
  • Not only do elephants really love peanuts, but apparently they also eat Christmas trees like it's going out of style

We weren't kidding. Elephants really eat trees.

So, to sum up, the Asian Elephant lives an average of 70 years (like Oprah Winfrey), needs hundreds of pounds of sustenance daily (like Oprah Winfrey), is noted for its large size and powerful hindquarters (like Oprah Winfrey), and regularly eats entire Christmas trees (like Oprah Winfrey).

While these things are all fine and dandy, the true trump card that the elephant species has up its sleeve is its brainpower. They are members of the animal kingdom's intellectual elite, and like the horse, dog, or dolphin, can be trained to assist humans and make life easier.

Thomas Crapper would be proud.

Which makes these allegations of elephant abuse all the more sickening. Tom Rider, who worked for Barnum and Bailey's circus for over two years, makes some disturbing claims:

Greatest Show on Earth. That's what they want you to see. They don't want you to see what goes on behind the tent, or when they get out there and drop the curtains. They would take and hook the elephants with the bull hook, a very sharp object. Hit them over the head.

We didn't know what a bull hook was, so we looked it up. It doesn't look like it's a lot of fun.

Other employees claim that "the circus regularly hires people with no animal care experience" and that "elephants are only unchained when the public is around." After one elephant was bull-hooked, it "bled profusely from inside the ear and behind the earflap."

We also found some video evidence, which is downright scandalous:

While we certainly don't think that the circus should be outlawed and that all the animals should be released so they can run wild and free, we most definitely believe in the basic rights that all creatures, big or small, are entitled to. It's really easy to abuse something that's smaller, weaker, dumber, or more afraid than you are. But we wouldn't mind seeing the reaction of those human paraquats in that video if someone stuck a bull-hook in their ear. They'd be crying, too.

No more Grand Slam breakfasts.

We realize that we are running the risk of sounding like "tree-hugging cunts" (as one long-time reader of this website once put it), but this blog, since its humble beginnings, has been focused on two topics:

Animals and Japanese people.

We feel it is our duty to bring the focus of the public spotlight anywhere where animals or Japanese people are being wronged. We cannot turn a blind eye to the lowest forms of human conduct, for this world is getting awfully small, and we are running out of elbow room. This type of despicable, atrocious, shameful behavior is a disgrace.

Don't get us wrong: We love the circus.

We're not saying shut 'em down. We're just trying to say that elephants deserve a fair shake, and we believe that they should be treated as slightly larger, dumber, smellier versions of ourselves.

Besides, if they shut down the circus, we might never see a monkey doing a handstand on a goat's horns while the goat is walking a tightrope:


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