The recent death of an animal groom at a Shrine-sponsored circus in Pennsylvania is a tragic end to an already tragic situation. Elephants have been beaten, battered and broken by the circus industry. Is it any wonder they snap from the stress?
Bullhooks look like a fireplace poker--they are batons with a sharp metal hook on the end. They are the standard tool that circuses use to break and manage elephants. These ugly devices are designed to cause pain and can rip and tear skin and leave bloody wounds.
Longtime elephant trainer Tim Frisco was caught on videotape viciously attacking terrified elephants with bullhooks and electric prods during an elephant training seminar. Frisco instructs other trainers to hurt the elephants until they scream and to sink the bullhook into their flesh and twist it. He also cautions that the beatings must be concealed from the public. The elephant who killed the groom in Pennsylvania is believed to belong to Terry Frisco, Tim Frisco's brother.
Let's imagine this scenario. A man with a dog act is hired to perform at a kids' party. He doesn't have the dog on a leash, he just carries a fireplace poker. When he wants the dog to walk with him, he uses the metal hook on the poker to catch the dog under the chin and yank. When the dog takes more than a step or two away from him, the man uses the poker to jab the dog under her armpit or behind her ear until she is so frightened that she stops moving and just cowers.