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Hugo Begins Life Of Misery In The Circus

April 20th, 2012 by Nicole Meyer

On April 25, 2011, a male elephant was born at the Carson and Barnes Circus winter quarters in Hugo, Oklahoma. He was named Hugo, a name that – according to the circus website – “just sounded circus.”

Though not yet a year old, Hugo is already on the road. IDA has confirmed that Hugo has been “rented out” to the Cole Brothers Circus. While he is not yet performing, there are indications that his training is underway. This is nothing new for Carson and Barnes elephants; Hugo’s five-year-old sister, Val, has been performing with the circus for over three years, much of the time without her mother.  

In the wild, baby elephants grow up surrounded by a circle of nurturers – mothers and other family members cooperatively care for each baby. Female calves stay with their natal herd for their entire lives and the males until sexual maturity, usually well into their teens. In the circus, however, elephant babies are a box-office draw. Virtually every elephant performing today started out their lives with the agony of being violently separated from their mothers. Added to this trauma is the cruelty of the training process so vividly demonstrated in photos provided to the Washington Post by a former Ringling trainer, showing terrified babies being taught to perform unnatural tricks through pain, prolonged restraint and punishment.

The stress of maternal deprivation, violent training, and constant confinement and travel takes a toll on young elephants, often leading to injury, sickness and death. Chronic stress is known to weaken the immune system and can leave young elephants susceptible to dangerous diseases. Two young Carson and Barnes elephants were stricken with the deadly elephant herpes virus (EEHV); one named Jenny died at age five. The baby elephant Barack, who was performing even before his first birthday with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, has survived two bouts with EEHV and there are reports that he has left the circus again due to illness. In addition, the tricks these calves are forced to perform can cause lasting injury to their developing bones and muscles. Ringling’s baby Ricardo was euthanized at eight months of age when he fell off a tub and broke his legs in a training session that involved bullhooks and ropes. 

Our concern is heightened by the fact that Hugo and Val are touring with the Cole Brothers Circus, whose indifference to the welfare of the animals it uses has been demonstrated time and time again. The circus recently settled charges filed by the USDA for more than 10 counts of violating the Animal Welfare Act, and these charges were just part of a long string of demonstrated abuse and neglect of the animals in their “charge.”

The person training and handling Hugo and Val is none other than the notorious Tim Frisco, who was caught on video (below) demonstrating how to train elephants by beating them and telling other handlers to “make ‘em scream” in order to get the elephants to obey commands. The cards seem stacked against these calves!

IDA has been asking the USDA for years to acknowledge that forcing baby elephants to travel and perform is a violation of the safe handling requirements of the Animal Welfare Act. The agency has so far declined to take any action to protect young elephants forced to travel and perform.

With several baby elephants at immediate risk, we need your help.

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    I will not be kind, I am going to state that you people putting this baby in the circus is cruel and inhumane and you all need the same treament you give to these precious ones. Would not hurt my feelings at all! Hold your head up proud knowing what your doing. So much for justice comming in and helping. Gee so much faith in them to. WOW!!!! YOU WANT MONEY WELL MAKE A HUMAN CIRCUS WITH YOU PEOPLE WHO ARE SO CRUEL! I’ll gladly lay out big bucks for that! But I will not uphold any circus at all You people are sick and we all know it to. Not that words will change anything CAUSE YOU ARE ALL TO DUMB TO UNDERSTAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bunch of slimes. Be proud of that huh

  130. July 18, 2012 at 2:35 am, rex tyler DTM said:

    Those men have to be traced and stuck in prison if they are representative of how animals are treated, it’s clear evidence that all animals should be banned from the Circus. They are clearly being tortured to do whatever it is these sick-minded cretins want them to do. Its such a shame the elephant doesn’t crush that b—–d once and for all and grind him into the dust. This is a message to all of us to pass on to everyone we know how sick the circus is and ban all of them worldwide.

  131. May 28, 2012 at 8:53 am, Cindy Wines said:

    It is SO cruel and inhumane that these poor elephants and also the tigers are beaten and shocked into submission. It is horrible how they take the baby elephant away, the minute they are born, while the mother is reaching and screaming for her baby. With the Humane Society, Peta, In Defense of Animals,
    IFAW and all the other animal defenders, it puzzles me as to why this blatant abuse can still occur on video and in front of people. These circuses must be stopped. This whole industry is archaic and barbaric and we are teaching our children the WRONG message. Ban the circus!!!

    • May 28, 2012 at 9:27 am, Jack Carone said:

      Hi, Cindy, Animal protection organizations do use these videos, which are either taken undercover or by people who happen to be there at that moment, to fight for the good of circus animals. Whenever animals are used for profit, it is a battle to stop the profiteers, but we all are in the fight for the long run. Thanks.

  132. May 05, 2012 at 10:34 am, Tania Marie Eades said:

    This is way I sign any petitions relating to the end of animals used in a circus. It is totally unnatural for the animals, not to mention the abuse and it is certainly not entertaining.

  133. May 03, 2012 at 2:42 pm, Lesley Robinson (Mrs) said:

    I would have no problem in executing the hateful apologies for humans that have dealt out this terrible cruelty to circus elephants. When are these poor animals going to be released from the circus nightmare – for ever?

  134. May 02, 2012 at 11:51 pm, MH. said:

    Circuses that exploit other species do not belong in the 21st century. They belong in the dark pages of a cruel history when they also held children with deformities in cages for the same sort of shallow audiences to pay to see.

  135. April 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm, Sharon Rose said:

    I left this reply for Todd but I am going to repost it for everyone to see:
    What is your point? Animals do not do things they do in the circus naturally so of course they train them but you have to remember they don’t do this willingly look at there bodies elephants are not made to do what they have them do in the circus they built for survival for their species. So you tell everyone get your story straight? They are abused, they are chained when not doing anything these are herd animals that walk miles and miles a day they need footcare or they will die not just standing there on a chain, they are hit will bullhook or proded with with an electric prod or constanly smacked by there trainers and abused and yelled at and tied down and pulled to the ground and taken from there mothers when they are babies. By the way these are endangered species whether african or asian as matter of fact asian elephants are more endangered than african elephants. So Tigers and elephants are endangered species and are being abused in these crappy circuses by these crazy trainers and if these trainers … animals amen! And if these animals are destroyed good for them they are out of hell and they are responsible for killing an endangered species which they should be held responsible for but are not I have no idea why! And who in there right mind pays to see animals abused unless they really don’t have a clue. There are bunches of us out there fighting the good fight trying to save these endangered species but these clowns just abuse them in front of us! And they belong in the wild that is their home and survival to deal with not ours so what was that comment you seem to think you have all the answers. Sorry you asked for it!!

  136. April 24, 2012 at 8:30 am, Janet Cope said:

    Something has to be done about this terrible abuse. This makes me sick.

    • May 02, 2012 at 11:25 am, michael said:

      The whole system with the different circuses is so corrupt and the courts are protecting those people who see nothing wrong with the torture of those poor animals.they need to be stopped and never again be allowed to have animals in the circus

  137. April 21, 2012 at 8:58 am, Diane said:

    This makes me physically nauseated! I know where I would like to put that … !!! How DARE we promote these acts of violence against living creatures of God for the sake of entertainment. ALL circus tents should be permanently shut down, unless and until only consenting human beings are the ONLY entertainment. TAKE ALL BABIES & ANIMALS OUT OF HARMS WAY!!!

  138. April 21, 2012 at 8:19 am, Patricia McEachern, Ph.D. said:

    This barbaric practice needs to be ended! Thanks to IDA, ADI, PAWS and every single person and organization working for that goal!

  139. April 21, 2012 at 6:37 am, cathy said:

    I HAVENT GONE TO CIRCUSES OF ANY TIME THEY ARE MEAN AND ABUSIVE , EVEN ONES WE THOUGHT HAD A GOOD NAME, ITS ALL BULLSHIT, STOP CIRCUSES LET THESE POOR ANIMALS LIVE IN THEIR OWN HABITAT,AND GET REAL JOBS , most of these circus people have next to no education, time to get some, LEAVE THE INNOCENT ANIMALS ALONE

  140. April 21, 2012 at 3:52 am, Cornelia Mangold-Thiede said:

    Never visit Circuses with animals. It´s only a big pain and suffering.

    The best is not visit Circuses

  141. April 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm, sabrais morrison said:

    and further more why is this nut not in jail what’s up with the feds the LAW ??? this is illegal and he on video and the police know who the sorry freak is why is he not in JAIL there are other ways to take care of garbage like him this is why i’m so proud to been born into my mafia family say what you want but …

  142. April 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm, britta said:

    vem kaller han asshole, han er jo det störste beskidte idiot, totalt retarderet….skulle selv have stöd, lobotomere han

  143. April 20, 2012 at 9:53 pm, sabrais morrison said:

    let me tell this coward whatever trainer puke we will find you at your home or where your traing this cruel abuse you enjoy giving so much your a insane sicko and eeds to be in jail and in a mental hospital your a very very very sick insane coward we are …

    • May 02, 2012 at 11:54 pm, MH. said:

      I hope you do find him Sabrais. And do unto him as he does to the elephants.

  144. April 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm, Todd said:

    It’s time that we stop posting videos that are so dated it’s sick. Also – it is proven fact that
    Elephants in the wild is a hard – torturing life and most wild elephants don’t live nearly as long as captive elephants !

    Why is it that we never see dated info – or new info for that matter ?
    I think the judge in the recent lawsuits verdict clearly shows this.

    Yes / it’s fact that there’s good apples and bad apples
    And u can not put them into 1 basket!!!!!!

    If anyone actually did any research on protected contact vs free contact / u will see it all depends on the elephant itself !!
    I would personally take free contact any day !! U can not provide good care working thru bars !
    So let’s start being honest and at least be fair and balanced !

    This is why many AZA zoos are upset for even changing over to the pressure of many of these groups and converted to PC. There is no need for it !
    Come on – lets stop slanting these stories always 1 way and actually start being honest!
    Look at PETA reputation !! They don’t care bout the animals – they care bout the $$$ and publicity ! Look at their Financial statements for urself ! U will see – and then ask yourself where does all this $$ go ?
    Not to saving animals – that’s for sure !!!

    • April 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm, Sharon Rose said:

      What is your point? Animals do not do things they do in the circus naturally so of course they train them but you have to remember they don’t do this willingly look at there bodies elephants are not made to do what they have them do in the circus they built for survival for their species. So you tell everyone get your story straight? They are abused, they are chained when not doing anything these are herd animals that walk miles and miles a day they need footcare or they will die not just standing there on a chain, they need to be hit will bullhook or proded with with an electric prod or constanly smacked by there trainers and abused and yelled at and tied down and pulled to the ground and taken from there mothers when they are babies. By the way these are endangered species whether african or asian as matter of fact asian elephants are more endangered than african elephants. So Tigers and elephants are endangered species and are being abused in these crappy circuses by these crazy trainers and if these trainers … these animals amen! And if these animals are destroyed good for them they are out of hell and they are responsible for killing an endangered species which they should be held responsible for but are not I have no idea why! And who in there right mind pays to see animals abuse unless they really don’t have a clue. There are bunches of us out there fighting the good fight trying to save these endangered species but these clowns just abuse them in front of us! And they belong in the wild that is their home and survival to deal with not ours so what was that comment you seem to think you have all the answers. Sorry you asked for it!!

    • May 26, 2012 at 2:14 pm, Animal Compassionate said:

      Todd, u want NEW videos??? How’s this one from only last year with Cole Bros where John walker is hitting the elephant in the face with a bullhook and at full force!!!!!
      How about this one that I took MYSELF of John Walker with Cole Bros dragging Viola around the ring with a bullhook in her ear as she trumpets in pain!!!!

      Before you even say anything, yes, I too have had experience working with elephants in a sanctuary in Africa. You are so full of it when you say it is a hard life for the elephants in the wild!!! They are able to act like elephants by traveling 50+ miles a day, swim, take mud baths, spend their lives with their families. None of this is possible for an elephant in captivity. They are deprived of everything that is natural to them. The only thing hard about their lives is dealing with HUMANS who slaughter them for greed! At least they die a quick death in that rather than living an entire life suffering in the circuses and zoos.

  145. April 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm, Jen Fraizer said:

    How can anyone with an IQ over 40 find animal circus acts entertaining? They should be outlawed!

    • May 02, 2012 at 8:07 am, TIFFANY FRYER said:

      Im DISGUSTED, I never had a damn clue !!!! NEVER AGAIN WILL I GO TO ANY KIND OF CIRCUS, AND WILL EXPOSE THIS INHUMANE CRUELTY! TEARS………………… BOYCOTT THE CIRCUS!

  146. April 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm, suzanne heskett said:

    why is this still being allowed cruel disgusting inhumane i av alot worst names 4 these watever people bt ill leave it at that