Award-winning actor and comedian Cloris Leachman stars in a video for PETA urging fans never to visit circuses that use animals — and one of the abused elephants in the video is Lisa, who is currently at Baraboo’s Circus World.
The video reveals how elephants who are used for entertainment, such as those used at Circus World, have been beaten and prodded into performing tricks. When not performing, they are often kept chained and may be forced to stand for days on hard surfaces—conditions that can cause a variety of ailments, including arthritis, an extremely painful condition that can be deadly for them.
“[E]lephants … are poked, prodded, shocked, and beaten,” begins Leachman in the video. “They are forced to perform ridiculous circus tricks like standing on their head or hind legs, which puts even more pressure on their aching joints.” For these reasons and many others, the actor encourages everyone to skip any circus that uses animals: “Elephants in the circus suffer in silence, but we can speak up,” she concludes. “Cruelty is one tradition we can do without.”
Circus World “rents” elephants from the notorious Carson & Barnes Circus, which has been cited for more than 100 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and was cited in 2016 while at Circus World for failing to provide an elephant named Bunny — whom PETA has monitored for years and who likely has arthritis — with veterinary care. Circus World is using Lisa, along with other elephants, for rides and shows throughout the summer, even though she is slow to perform tricks and her forelimbs are visibly stiff when she walks — all signs of arthritis.
PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” — notes that Ringling Bros. circus went out of business last year, citing the public’s changing attitude toward its use of animals, and numerous cities, including New York; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and San Francisco, have recently passed bans on traveling wild-animal acts.