Circuses featuring trained elephants have been a European tradition for generations, but awareness of how wild animals suffer in captivity has changed the landscape for circus performers. The transition is not simple for an elephant and its keepers who have been together for decades. Such is the case for Dumba the elephant, and the Kludskys, a legacy circus family who has owned her for 41 years. Under pressure from animal rights activists, the Kludskys loaded up their elephant and disappeared -twice.
When Covid-19 broke out across Europe, the Kludskys left a circus in Zaragoza to sit out the pandemic at home. There was no more work but, while Spain was under strict lockdown, at least there was no more scrutiny either. They shielded: Kruse took care of the shopping while George went no further than the nearest farm to fetch Dumba’s hay. Then, in August 2020, Faada changed tack. Instead of focusing on Dumba’s welfare, they turned their attention to the risk Dumba might pose to the public.
The organisation told Spanish authorities that the Kludskys were breaching security regulations. An elephant, being a potentially dangerous animal, had to be enclosed by a thick-barred steel fence. But the local council refused the Kludskys permission to build an unsightly elephant fence in a scenic rural zone. That was the double bind the family found itself in last September. And that’s when they decided that their next act would be to disappear. They stocked up Dumba’s trailer with hay, filled the water tank, loaded her in and heaved up the ramp behind her. Then they nosed the truck slowly out of the gate and travelled north.
The struggle between the Kludskys and animal rights activists over Dumba is a part of the larger story. There is an elephant sanctuary in France, the only one in Europe, eager to take in elderly circus elephants to give them space and companionship in retirement. But it has yet to welcome its first elephant, due to the reluctance of circus people to surrender their animals. Read about Dumba and other circus elephants at The Guardian. -via Damn Interesting