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People Outraged After Video Surfaces Of Circus Elephant Pulling Children In Snow

When I was a kid, I once took a ride on an elephant. Because it was obviously much taller than me, I needed to climb some stairs to get to the harnesses its keepers set up.

Although the ride consisted of the elephant and I moving slowly along a small, circular path, I still enjoyed myself. All those harnesses made me feel safe and I got to take a high ride on an elephant I had never even touched before.

However, I eventually learned that my enjoyment came at a surprisingly high price. And the children who visit one snowy attraction in Germany may learn a similarly tough lesson one day.

At first glance, this seems like a perfectly charming scene.

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Mambo the elephant trudges along and pulls a small chain of sleds behind him. One adult yells excitedly in the lead sled, but all of the adorably bundled-up children are clearly enjoying themselves.

All the while, a trainer is walking beside Mambo and apparently cheering words of encouragement at him.

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The trainer is speaking in German, but The Dodo translated his words as, "Come on, boy. Come on, big boy. That was fun, huh?"

Although it certainly seemed fun for the kids, animal welfare whistle-blowers had plenty of reason to think it wasn't fun for Mambo at all.

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For one thing, he's shown sucking his trunk during the entire ride. As News24 reported, it's not uncommon for adult elephants to do this when they're stressed as a coping mechanism.

For another, the trainer is seen carrying a bullhook, which resembles a fireplace poker.

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The implication being that if Mambo doesn't keep pulling the sled chain, the trainer will prod him with it.

Most concerning, however, is the condition of Mambo's skin. It seems significantly paler than the skin around his eyes and ears.

There are a couple of possible reasons for that and neither of them are encouraging.

One issue is that many elephants are not bred to be ridden and day spent carrying or pulling humans can put major strain on them.

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As National Geographic reported, carrying people has been known to cause spinal problems and skin sores.

It's also not uncommon for elephants that do this job to work long hours without food, water, or rest.

Yet, perhaps the largest issue at work here is where Mambo is doing this pulling.

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As Will Anderson from In Defense of Animals told The Dodo, elephants can handle the snow for brief periods of time, but are vulnerable to frostbite if they're left in below-freezing temperatures for long periods of time.

Considering that other elephants can be seen waiting around in the background, it seems likely that they're being exposed to the elements for long periods.

As The Guardian reported, this very issue is what led animal activists and former The Price Is Right host Bob Barker to speak on behalf of Lucy, an elephant who experiences harsh winters annually at Canada's Edmonton Valley Zoo.

Still, even if Mambo were bred to carry humans and allowed to do so in a warm climate, he would still have experienced a lot of suffering in his life.

Facebook | Reutlinger Weihnachtscircus

Mambo is circus elephant owned by a company called Reutlinger Weihnachtszirkus, which means that he's gone through a process that almost all domesticated elephants experience as babies: A "training crush."

As National Geographic reported, this process trains elephants to raise their legs on command and follow orders in general.

It's done by stabbing their legs with the bullhooks mentioned above and beating them if they make any mistakes.


After three to six days of this, they're briefly released and usually covered in wounds and rope burns. They are then tied up again and their training continues for weeks.

Reactions began pouring in once this video went viral, and for the most part, many people were sympathetic for Mambo.

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For starters, one of the most common perspectives on the situation revolved around how appropriate it was for an elephant to be in an environment like this at all.

Others commented on the dated practice of elephant taming itself.

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Touted as “tasteless,” and a method of profiting off of abuse, many were quick to point out the inhumane nature of the ride.

Not everyone was against the circus, though. Some even showed outright support.

Instagram | @Milos_wildlife

Many believe circuses provide a unique entertainment experience, one that is unforgettable and defining for children.

Supporters were also quick to rationalize by citing how other animals like horses are treated in a similar way.

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Which really only builds a stronger case against this type of circus training.

Additionally, this specific fan was vocal about the apparent veterinary standards that circuses must follow — however it's common knowledge that circuses are notorious for poor treatment, and often abuse towards animals.

Overall, though, the general sentiment can be summed up with a single, concise comment.

Instagram | @jovanniramirezz
  1. Teach children to have empathy for other living beings, and

  2. Ban the abuse of captive wildlife for human entertainment.

For all of these reasons, there is now a petition circulating to pressure Reutlinger Weihnachtscircus to cancel these sled pulls and to stop using animals altogether.

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The petition can be found here and has already achieved 5,974 signatures of its 6,000 signature goal.

If you need to see the full video of Mambo's sled pull for yourself, you can find that here.

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