Carol Bradley's new book attempts to raise awareness of the brutal life of a circus elephant by sharing the story of one pachyderm who’s had a hard life and a happy ending.
The star of the book is an Asian elephant named Billie. She was born in the wild in India in 1962, but was captured and sold into the United States circus industry when she was barely 10 years old. As is the standard in the circus industry, Billie was mistreated and abused for decades.
Common elephant ‘training’ practices include chaining the animals, starving them, making them stand for days on end in their own pools of urine and mountains of feces, forcing these social animals to live a solitary existence, beating them bloody and hooking sensitive body parts with a bull hook.
Most go without proper medical care, and some have witnessed elephants crying and screaming in pain. The ‘tricks’ these 10,000 pound animals are forced to perform can rupture a uterus, or cause arthritis.
You know the old saying—elephants never forget. Charging or wild circus elephants that make headlines are usually severely abused animals enacting calculated revenge. Billie was headed in that direction—she’d been labeled aggressive. She was reaching her breaking point, and getting angrier.
Billie was retired and thankfully turned over to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. It took her a long time to adjust—it was 5 years before she’d allow the sanctuary staff to remove a circus chain from her left foot. Billie is finally happy; she is under excellent care and has 200 acres of natural land where she can wander and play in the company of other elephants.
Bradley’s Book, “Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top,” was released July 22 and tells Billie’s tale. Hopefully Billie’s story will put a spotlight on the circus industry and bring down the big top once and for all.
Photo: Daily Mail
Billie was captured and sold into the circus industry when she was very young. Now she is finally free.