Baby Elephant Used by Ringling Infected With Deadly Virus Baby Elephant Used by Ringling Infected With Deadly Virus
Ringling Bros. Beats Animals

Baby Elephant Used by Ringling Infected With Deadly Virus

Baby Barack

PETA has confirmed that Barack, a baby elephant with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, is suffering from a deadly herpes virus that Ringling may have been able to prevent. Barack was not even a year old when Ringling moved him to the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa in December 2009. But only one month later, after performing in Orlando and Jacksonville, Barack was taken off the road because he contracted the deadly endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV).

Stress is believed to be a factor in the development of EEHV infection because it can weaken the immune system, making an elephant susceptible to infectious diseases. If this is the case, Ringling's greed is likely the culprit. The circus has subjected this young elephant to the stress of transport and performances, in which he was surrounded by bullhook-toting trainers as he was trotted around the ring and forced to climb a pedestal.

Death from the herpes virus usually occurs within seven days after an acute onset of symptoms, which include lethargy, swelling of the head and limbs, and a blue discoloration of the tongue. This frightening disease causes massive internal hemorrhaging, typically affects elephants under 10 years of age, and has an 85 percent mortality rate. It's responsible for more than half of all juvenile elephant deaths in North American facilities, and it's possible that Ringling could have prevented baby Barack from catching this horrible virus.

If Barack survives, he doesn't have much to look forward to. When he's around 18 months old, he will likely be pulled away from his mother and subjected to violent training sessions that will involve being tied up with ropes, slammed to the ground, electrically shocked, and gouged with bullhooks in order to learn circus "tricks." 

Please help Barack by asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate and, if appropriate,
pursue charges against Ringling for putting this baby elephant in harm's way and demanding that the agency ensure that he is receiving adequate veterinary care.

Please send polite comments to:

Chester A. Gipson, D.V.M.
Deputy Administrator
USDA-APHIS-AC
4700 River Rd., Unit 97
Riverdale, MD 20737-1234
301-734-7833
301-734-4993 (fax)

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  • Thomas J. Vilsack

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