Away from the bright lights, sequins and loud music, the lives of performing elephants look like this. They're often shackled for hours each day and are moved from venue to venue in trucks barely bigger than their own bodies. Many will exhibit "stereotypic behaviours," such as rocking back and forth or moving their head from side to side - all of which indicate boredom, neurosis and depression.
In the wild, these highly sociable animals are used to travelling in multi-generational families for miles each day, foraging for food, dust-bathing and even swimming.
"Just out of Luke's reach was a hose. While no one was watching him, apart from me who took photographs from a distance, Luke strained against his shackles to reach the hose with his trunk. Eventually, he grasped it and pulled it towards him, enjoying having something to play with. His owner saw him with the hose and took it away. Luke resumed his swaying back and forth." - Jo
📷: Luke the elephant. Shriner circus, Canada, 2006.
Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals