The Circus has for decades been known as "The Greatest Show On Earth." However the abuse that African and Asian elephants suffer during training is severe enough to sink your stomach.
Knowing that elephant's skin is just as sensitive as a human's can give you insight into how painful these training methods are to these particularly advanced emotional beings.
Elephants in Ringling's possession are chained inside filthy, poorly ventilated boxcars for an average of more than 26 straight hours—and often 60 to 70 hours at a time—when the circus travels.
Even former Ringling employees have reported that elephants are routinely abused and violently beaten with bullhooks (an elephant-training tool that resembles a fireplace poker), in order to force them to perform tricks.
While the elephants that would traditionally perform in the circus are Asian elephants, Jumbo the African elephant was a circus performer from 1861 – 1885, and was a famous one at that.
Although his trainer, Matthew Scott, loved Jumbo, during his travels with Barnum and Bailey on the circus, this 11-foot bull elephant stayed in a poorly ventilated and maintained boxcar, his mind not adequately stimulated.
Jumbo performed in countless places across the United States. Jumbo was killed while traveling, when he was hit by a train, although, his life may have been more tragic than his death.