Months of privations, mistreatments
and sufferings hide behind the performances of the show.
The training methods involve frequent beatings and the privation
of water and food. To make the elephants stand on their back legs,
a burning iron is pressed under their throat. Felines get their
crawls asported and their tooth filed to make them harmless. To
bend their will before the trainings start, tigers and lions are
laid on the floor, they get the four legs tied together so that
the animals cannot move and they are hit with clubs, until they
realise that any reaction is useless.
We refer about some statements from the tamers themselves. Jean
Richard, French tamer: "with the lions I found just
one solution: throwing them a stool, right on their muzzle",
and about elephants: "I grab a metal bar and I start to hit
the elephants on the head with all my strength". Alfred
Courts, another French tamer:" I stayed alone with
the tigers and punished them in such a way they couldn't forget...That's
the game of the lion tamer. He keeps the lion under the constant
threat of death, reminding it to the animals with thousands of pricklings,
wounding and whiplashes. The lion groans his protest, but he goes
on with the exercise because he doesn't want to die". Liana
Orfei:"The beast comes closer to the stool until it
jumps on it in order to get the piece of meat. Does the beast try
to move from the stool? The tamer cracks his whip".
And about seals "seals can only be tamed with
hunger, because their skin is wet and too delicate to be whipped"...the
whip and the cane used during the show help to keep the animal in
a constant state of terror and threat, reminding him the beatings
of the training.
Hans Falk, ex-worker by Knie circus, tells us about
the training of a young female elephant: "we started with a
sort of balance exercise, on a hard board 50 cm above the floor.
But the elephant was scared and refused to do it. The tamer and
Louis Knee lost their patience and grabbed a metallic bar with a
hook on one end. With this they started to hit the animal, pushing
the hook in her flesh slaughtering the skin. They were trying to
get the exercise correctly done as fast as possible, but the elephant
still wasn't able to do it. The tamer started to hit the animal
on her legs until she was bleeding.
Also food and water privation can be used to train animals. Some
animals never learn, their will is maybe too strong and they don't
obey, so they die of exhaustion, of wound infections or they simply
let themselves die, so desperate and hopeless that they refuse to
eat. It's the tamer's philosophy, the animal must obey or die.