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Time to ban barbaric tools of the circus trade

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Can you picture how upset the children would be? Can you imagine any parent paying someone to do that in front of their children? And yet, that's exactly what generations of parents have been paying the circus to do--to elephants.

Whenever a captive animal crushes, drowns or mauls a trainer or bystander, those who profit from their misery are quick to write it off as "play" gone awry, or they claim that the animal was trying to "protect" the person from some unsubstantiated threat. Such explanations are transparently self-serving and downright disingenuous.

Elephants are exceedingly intelligent animals who know the difference between play and aggression. A few years ago, an elephant at the Pittsburgh Zoo fatally crushed a handler who had been prodding her with a bullhook. Only months earlier at the zoo, an elephant injured a former Ringling Bros. Circus elephant trainer who had been hired by the zoo, causing a collapsed lung and leg injuries. There's nothing puzzling about an abused animal finally deciding that they've had enough.

Recently, Bolivia imposed the world's most comprehensive ban on the use of animals in circuses, prohibiting both domestic and exotic species. Singapore, India, Finland, Austria and many other countries around the world have also placed restrictions on the use of animals in circuses.

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