The posthumous confessions of a former Ringling Bros. elephant wrangler have given PETA new ammunition in its ongoing fight against the nation’s biggest circus, which it accuses of animal cruelty. Sammy Haddock, who appears to have been seeking absolution, documented what he attested is brutish behavior towards baby elephants in pictures, a statement, and an interview with the rights organization. And the circus is firing back.
The pictures are nothing if not evocative: baby elephants prodded with bullhooks—Ringling prefers the term “guides”—and trussed with ropes, their mouths open. “It's screaming bloody murder. It doesn't have its mouth open for a carrot,” Haddock says in the interview. Yes it does, a trainer at Ringling’s Florida elephant farm tells the Washington Post, calling the photos “classic pictures of professional elephant-training.” It’s for the feds to decide now—PETA has used Haddock’s info to file a complaint with the USDA. (Read more Sammy Haddock Ringling Bros stories.)