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A Life Cut Short in the Circus

March 16th, 2012 by Nicole Meyer

Too many times an elephant in a zoo or circus dies, with no acknowledgement at all. It’s as if she or he never existed. So with this blog IDA marks the passing of 29-year-old Dolly, who performed for nearly her entire life with Jorge and Louann Barreda’s circus act. Her companions Lou, Makia and Lovey, who have also performed for the Barredas their whole lives, are still traveling with them in the UniverSoul Circus. 

Dolly, who was taken from her wild family in 1987, was on the road with the circus when she died. According to the necropsy report provided to the USDA, her presumed cause of death was “metabolic failure secondary to esophageal obstruction and general anesthesia.” She was brought to a veterinarian’s office with a wad of “feed material” choking her and put under anesthesia so that the material could be removed, became very weak, and died.

IDA has long had grave concerns over the health and welfare of all of Barreda’s elephants. Last year we filed several complaints questioning their veterinary care. Following one IDA complaint, a USDA inspection found “no noncompliances.” But we pressed the USDA to investigate further, armed with photographic evidence demonstrating a lack of appropriate foot care. This resulted in the issuance of an “Official Warning” to the Barredas for failure to provide adequate veterinary care. It was issued about a month after Dolly’s death.

Dolly deserves to be remembered, and IDA will honor her memory by continuing to fight for other elephants forced to live unnatural lives in circuses. And we will urge the USDA to confiscate Dolly’s surviving companions from an exhibitor with a proven history of indifference to their medical needs.

UniverSoul Circus’s schedule is available here. If they are coming to your area, and you can help by organizing a leafleting event or by monitoring the elephants, please contact circuses@idausa.org.

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    My heart and soul grieve for ALL the unfortunate victims of human neglect and cruelty. I cry everyday for the animals, and my heart is so very heavy that I wonder how I can keep going. I wish there were more I could do to protect ALL animals. It never seems to be enough. Poor Dolly. I wish she knew how much I cried for her. I am grateful to know that she is gone though, and that thought is a real tragedy. To be better off dead than remain alive to suffer at the hands of man? Very sad and disheartening. I am appalled that our government does not take a stand against the abuse suffered by “entertainment” animals. There is NO justification for abuse and neglect of ANY animal, but esp. one that brings in a profit. You would think an animal that allows profit would be treated well. Of course, look at the industrial meat market. It is atrocious and criminal! I am so ashamed to be a human…

  59. March 18, 2012 at 8:53 pm, Donna Reynolds said:

    So Dolly died last year? And I see from the link that UniverSoul, ironically named, comes as far north as Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn this Spring. Possible field trip.
    I wonder who else, besides IDA, is hitting the USDA with formal complaints about elephants suffering in circuses, small and large?
    PETA rocks in the undercover category, and may also bolster IDA’s work with the USDA, but if there are other groups with this much interest, information and focused action for captive elephants, it would be good to know that they’re out here too. (I see ADI in Hollywood)
    Rock on with your good works, IDA.

  60. March 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm, L said:

    When will man understand, if ever, that elephants have feelings too, that they
    are social and mourn when separated. That they are not on this earth to be
    mistreated and should have the right to live the life God intended them to, and
    not be used for our entertainment. I will never visit a circus again.

  61. March 17, 2012 at 8:36 pm, Cindy Wines said:

    Poor, poor Dolly. She was a young elephant. They are just numbers to them. They don’t care, don’t get any love or attention, just bullhooks and whips. Thank you for pressing the USDA and being their voice when they cannot speak. I am here in Tucson and going to the Reid Park Zoo to see the 7 new elephants at the 7 acre expansion. I hope they will keep Connie and Shaba together, as promised. Pat Derby had sent a letter to the Mayor of Tucson to send a letter she wrote to the Mayor of San Diego to MAKE sure they two girls are kept together. Any word on what is happening to Tony the Tiger? I also communicate with Carole Baskinof Big Cat REscue regarding poor Tony who has been in a cage for 11 years at a diesel truck stop in Gross Tete, LA.

  62. March 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm, MELINDA MERRILL said:

    Treena, you said exactly what I have always believed. These poor elephants suffer through years of “entertaining” people who go to circuses. People should stop going to circuses.

  63. March 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm, Cynthia said:

    Treena – Excellent, my sentiments exactly.

  64. March 16, 2012 at 1:13 pm, Sylvia said:

    Ningun animal merece estar en un circo maltratado y haciendo trucos, ni enjaulado.
    Es un grave error.
    No visitemos los Circos.

  65. March 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm, Treena Livesley said:

    Animals are not here for our “entertainment”. They should be afforded dignity and respect. It is disgusting to see animals perform in circuses and is degrading and shaming us all.

    • March 18, 2012 at 6:54 am, Jeanie said:

      So agree Treena, man is so arrogant that he thinks he can use and abuse animals for entertainment and monetary gain. It is shameful, when will we realise that this is so wrong?? Animals weren’t put on this earth for our use and the sooner we understand that the better this world will be. If left unheeded, man’s greed and desire to ‘own’ everything will destroy the planet in a very short time.