Elephant Used in Joplin Tornado Cleanup Does More Harm Than Good


joplin elephantIt's likely the Piccadilly Circus thought it was doing a noble thing by dispatching one of its elephants to assist with debris cleanup after last week's tornado in Joplin, Missouri. But not everyone is so thrilled with the four-legged volunteer. In fact, the circus animal -- which has been being used to drag vehicles closer to the street so they can be removed -- is creating quite a controversy in the community.

First there's the animal rights activists who are outraged because they think the elephant is being exploited. One resident explained:

It's sad that they would put an animal through it.

Others are accusing the circus of using its elephant in aid efforts as a publicity stunt. And, then there's those residents who think using an elephant is generally a bad idea:

I think that the circus people generally want to help ... but I think it's dangerous for the people standing so near the elephant. It's a wild animal. Even thought it's trained, you see it all the time. It's just not a good idea.

For real? Elephants are one of the strongest animals in the world and have been used for centuries to lift, move, and carry heavy objects. So, the idea of using them to move some dilapidated vehicles around in Joplin doesn't sound like animal abuse to me. In fact, it sounds like a day of honest work. (Unless, of course, they are being overworked and underfed, but there's no evidence coming out of Joplin to suggest this is the case.)

And as for it being a publicity stunt: Offers to help the people of Joplin are coming from all places these days -- how is this any different? As long as proper safety precautions are taken and the elephant handlers are present, how is this situation any more dangerous than the elephant being in the circus? It's too bad this offer of help is creating such a big riff in the town -- especially at a time when everyone should be coming together.

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Kelli... KelliansMom

how do ppl think we moved big stuff before we had machines and such ...if the animal is being fed and kept in a clean area and NOT being over worked i say this is a very green way to clean up 

lucky... luckygirlyo

Look @ other parts of the world-India uses elephants to do similiar work. They are a very intelligent, sensitive breed. And they are probably, by all accounts, being treated well. We use rescue dogs, why not rescue elephants?

Mark Donners

One day the earth will be free of humans and the animals won't be exploited for circuses, slave labor or factory farmed for meat

Gypsy... GypsyMa76

I say Thank you for your assistance Mr Elephant. I totally appreciate all the help you are providing for the town of Joplin.

alway... alwayscurious

Seems to me that the circus people really wanted to help. If you read the actual report, it says the other actors and elephants put on small shows around the city for the people still there Also, it says the elephant only worked for two hours because it was hot and there isn't much water there. Why do people have to be so darned skeptical?

silve... silverdawn99

wow?? animal rights?? this elephant is an animal..it wasnt tortured or harmed..they are used to carry large loads. thank God that someone actually is caring to help the victims. (and i am sure those poor tramautized children enjoyed seeing the elephant help out)

kisse... kisses5050


Mark Donners

Facebook comment from Mark Donners
on Jun 1, 2011 at 6:50 PM

One day the earth will be free of humans and the animals won't be exploited for circuses

Seriously? exploited? How about the natural partnership that forms between animals and people? One that is benifical and beautiful? Ever watch a child in a burn unit light up when a therapy dog comes into a room? Or a dog jump and dance when it sees its partner come home from a work a day? I have watched horses hold their heads with pride and dogs dig out victims at the OKC bombing only to cry in grief when they were dead...so the fire fighters would bury each other so the dogs could find some living people to keep their spirts up...

Green... GreenKnitMama

@Mark Donners:  Just go back to your little hut in the woods and figure out some more government conspiracies, kthnx.

I'm a huge animal rights advocate, and I think its awesome that this circus generously offered the use of one of the elephants.  I actually don't think much of circuses to begin with, but this story softened my views of them a little bit.  @luckygirlyo and @silverdawn99 make great points, about the rescue dogs and the fact that the poor children of Joplin who have watched their entire lives get torn apart probably LOVE seeing the elephant in the streets...I know my kids would.

Mamaw... MamawWalker

Moe worry over animal than people who need help.

nonmember avatar Linda

Comparing the life of a circus elephant and a rescue dog is a bit ignorant. Circus animals generally do not have a good quality of life (nor any wild animal held captive for the entertainment of people). In my opinion, the circus could do more good by donating money or equipment than trotting an elephant out for the press. Of course, that wouldn't get much publicity.

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