Trumpets sound as red, blue, and green lights illuminate the crowd. The sweet smell of cotton candy and popcorn fills the air while an excited audience awaits the first act. Music blares as the ring master’s voice booms through the arena. The audience, enthralled with their blinking clown noses and buttery treats are oblivious to the elephant who is waiting off-stage swaying rhythmically back and forth, back and forth. They ignore the ring master with a long black stick in his hand, a silver claw at the tip sharpened and ready for the show. They can’t see the scars on the elephant’s feet, behind their ears, or near their armpits. They don’t hear the elephants being beaten by the bull-hooks just prior to the show, scaring them into submission. They don’t notice this anymore than they choose to acknowledge that these animals have been caged for 26 hours or more as they travel from location to location in extreme climates dehydrated, hungry, and scared, unable to express any of their natural behaviors. The audience, filled with euphoria, awaits the next trick where the elephant stands on its rear feet, unaware of the pain this animal is in. Unaware that elephants bear their weight primarily on their front feet, and to perform this trick they must push through the pain of old injuries. They don’t see the elephant limp, his or her feet damaged from being chained to the floor— a method called “breaking”, designed to crush the spirit of young elephants before they are beaten into submission to perform tricks against their will.

No, none of this is seen as we eat our popcorn and marvel at our blinking toy noses.

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