At least Dumbo, the elephant responsible for killing it’s groom yesterday in Pennsylvania, sure didn’t. She was captured in Africa in 1985, at least according to one report.
Reports are currently somewhat conflicting, but it is agreed that the victim was a groom in the employ of the elephant’s trainer, that the groom spent a lot of time with Dumbo and was comfortable with her, that the animal had no history of aggression toward its handlers, that she was the sole elephant in the show, and that there were no witnesses to the tragic event.
The above are not necessarily fact, just assertions that are nowhere contradicted as of yet. Conflicting reports describe the killing as a kick versus a stomping. The latest report out of Pennsylvania alleges the groom was attempting to extract the frightened elephant from some electrical wires, and many reports have referred to Dumbo spooking after coming into contact with electrical wires.
I’m not sure there is very much specifically to be taken from this sad event, other than that life under the big top ain’t all it’s cracked up to be; but I’ll take the opportunity to go on record with the following opinion.
There are questions of animal welfare whose answers are quite complex, and will therefor very likely be debated ad infinitum. The question of whether we ought to snatch animals as socially sophisticated and intelligent as elephants out of their native habitats in order to exploit that sociability and intelligence for profit and entertainment is not one of them.
© Ruth Crisler and Spot Check, 2010.