Stop Circus Suffering

Cork, Ireland: Elephant crushes trainer during fight with another elephant

Delegates to the Summit for Elephants in Oakland, California, call for steps to be taken to end the use of elephants in travelling circuses.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) and ARAN of Ireland, have condemned the risk to public safety due to the inadequate facilities and animal management at Courtney Brothers Circus in Cork, Ireland.  An elephant escape from the circus just days ago has today been followed by en even more serious incident in which a trainer has been hospitalised and could have been killed. Circus trainers attempted to break up a fight between two elephants and one of the trainers was crushed.

Jim Conway, general manager of Courtney Brothers Circus, told the Irish Times:  “As far as I have been told, two elephants were jostling outside the circus and a trainer happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”  The circus was unable to confirm which elephant crushed the trainer.

ADI and ARAN are urging the authorities to confiscate the animals and have offered to help with relocation to a sanctuary.

On Friday, experts including field researchers, zoos, scientists, and animal protectionists attending the Summit for Elephants in California issued a statement calling for an end to the use of elephants in travelling circuses.

This noted:  “This week’s escape of an elephant from Courtney Brothers Circus in Cork, Rep. of Ireland, could have easily resulted in disastrous consequences for both local people and the animal.”

Delegates to the Summit for Elephants in Oakland, California, urged that steps be taken to end the use of elephants in travelling circuses in the interests of protection of the welfare of these wild and magnificent animals, and in the interests of public safety.
Click here to see statement

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International:  “The escape was a serious warning, and now we have an incident in which someone could easily have been killed.  We are relieved that the trainer is recovering, but it is time to say enough is enough.  This is a dangerous situation for the public, especially when children are taken to the circus. It is time to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.”

John Carmody of Ireland Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN): “With the frantic images of the elephant trying to escape on Tuesday from the circus hitting households everywhere, people across our nation are finally realising that circuses with animals have no place in Irish society. The writing is finally on the walls for those still clinging onto a future of animal-acts, and now people realise that we must bring these outdated establishments to a long awaited end.”Over 20 countries have some form of ban on the use of wild animals in circuses with several others including the USA, UK, and Brazil considering bans.

Media contacts:
Ireland:  ARAN:  John Carmody, 087 239 1646,
ADI USA: Matt Rossell, 323 804 9920,


Signatories to the letter condemning the escape included:  Jan Creamer, President, Animal Defenders International, Pat Derby, Co-founder, Performing Animal Welfare Society & ARK2000 Elephant Sanctuary, Colleen Kinzley, Director of Animal Care, Conservation and Research, Oakland Zoo, Ron Kagan, Executive Director, CEO, Detroit Zoo, Gail Laule, Active Environments, Inc., Dr. Mel Richardson, Veterinarian, Captive Wildlife Health Consultant, Joyce Poole, Ph.D., Founder, ElephantVoices, Kartick Satyanarayan, Founder, Wildlife SOS India, Cindy Machado, Director of Animal Services, Marin Humane Society, Rob Atkinson, CEO, The Elephant Sanctuary, Tennessee, Patricia McEachern, Ph.D., Professor, Director, Drury University Forum on Animal Rights, Delcianna Winders, Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement, PETA Foundation, Keith Lindsay, Ph.D., Researcher/Conservation Biologist, Amboseli, Elephant Reseach Project, Leonie Vestering, President, Elephant Haven, Linda Faso, PACTA, People Against Cruelty to Animals, Catherine Doyle, Elephant Welfare Specialist, Campaign Director, In Defense of Animals, Chris Draper, Senior Animal Welfare Scientist, Born Free Foundation, Tim Phillips, Vice President, Animal Defenders International, Matt Rossell, Campaigns Director, Animal Defenders International, Ed Stewart, Co-founder, Performing Animal Welfare Society, Steve Smith, Director of Elephant Husbandry, The Elephant Sanctuary, Margaret Whittaker, Active Environments, Inc., Petter Granli, Founder, ElephantVoices, Geeta Seshamani, Founder, Wildlife SOS India, Tony Verhulst, Vice President, Elephant Haven, Sofie Goetghebeur, Treasurer, Elephant Haven

Click here to watch video of elephant escape earlier in week

Click here to read letter from experts condemning elephants in circuses

Elephant escape in Cork


  1. Jean Bird (@dancegenie) · 31 March 2012 at 11:50a

    The sooner animals are banned from circuses the better, it is no place for any animal. I bet those elephants get a right beating after this episode and I bet the one that took an excursion across the car park the other day got beaten when it was returned. Elephant beatings in circuses is common place. I don’t know what it is about man v elephants in circuses but elephants seem to bring out the cowardly bully in man. It is such a shame for these very compassionate gentle giants. Shame on circuses.

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