Journalist Carol Bradley has also spent a great deal of time researching circus elephants for her book, "Last Chain On Billie." (Bradley was quoted in a recent piece in The Dodo on two circus elephants, Rosie and Opal.) Bradley also sees a many reasons why circus elephants haven't had their Blackfish-moment.
"I believe a growing percentage of the public [in fact] does feel queasy about seeing captive wild animals performing in a ring, even if they can't articulate why. People will ask: if elephants are so abused, why isn't there a law prohibiting it?"
"They don't understand," she explains, "that there is a law, the federal Animal Welfare Act. But it is weakly written and poorly enforced." For example, says Bradley, "The Animal Welfare Act allows elephant handlers to use bullhooks and, even when there are obvious injuries to elephants, there are too few federal inspectors to monitor their welfare." Moreover, Bradley says the circus industry is a financial powerhouse and is very effective at lobbying: "Circuses have spent millions of dollars trying to paint protestors as left wing nut jobs ... According to the group Center for Public Integrity, Ringling Bros. spent $335,000 in 2012 alone lobbying Congress and the federal government not to clamp down on circuses."