“Last Chain on Billie, How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top” by Carol Bradley, lays bare the cruel treatment elephants were forced to endure when they were brought to the United States to preform in circuses. Though “Last Chain” primarily focuses on the past, some elephants are still being abused in circuses and zoos.
The book highlights the life of Billie, an elephant captured in the 1960’s in the jungles of Asia—an animal subjected, as so many were, to a long, arduous journey to America. Often the elephants were tossed around in the bowels of a ship and injured or killed in the process, their bodies thrown overboard.
Starved in advance of the voyage to make her more submissive, Billie’s abuse was just beginning. Trainers subjected the elephant to hours of endless beatings and prodding with bull hooks in an attempt to teach her tricks like standing on her head, using her trunk to balance her body.
Unlike many elephants that died, or had to be killed when the abuse they endured made them turn on their trainers, Billie survived and lives in The Elephant Refuge in Tennessee. To find out more about Billie and other rescued elephants, go to http://www.elephants.com.