Elephants in the Americas

12. October 2021

Currently there are about 300 elephants living in 65 accredited North American zoos. In addition 17 circuses continue to force 69 elephants to perform in their shows. Not all of the 69 can be used all the time. Many of them are too sick or too weak. Accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is based on flawed criteria far from guaranteeing the well being of  elephants. Most of the remaining circuses do not even attempt to conform to these minimal standards.  Punishment for violating the US Animal Welfare Act is weak. Often,  even after many citations, owners  allowed to keep their elephants.

The US general public is increasingly aware of circus elephants’ suffering resulting in dwindling audiences for circuses with animal acts. The Ringling Brothers Circus, after 135 years of abusing elephants finally had to retire their elephant acts and close their doors.

Real sanctuaries are starting to welcome elephants in need, giving them the freedom to recover at least part of their elephant nature without any human coercion.

Elephant Billie splashing in a pond of the Elephant Sanctuary, Tennessee *

The number of South American elephants comes to only 50 captives. Brazil accounts for 35 of the 50 elephants, of which 17 elephants still work in traveling circuses and 18 live in sub-standard zoos.

Brazil’s climate and flora is ideally suited  for elephants, and the accredited Global Sanctuary of Elephants is operating out of 2,800 acres located in the municipality of Chapada dos Guimarāes, Brazil. Five former circus and zoo elephants are so far enjoying the freedom of the 2,800 acres.  **

For more information go to the following sanctuary websites:

* https://www.elephants.com

** globalelephants.org