Topsy also delighted the audience after the trainer repeatedly thrust a hooked rod into his skin, causing the miserable animal to lift one leg and his trunk to simulate waving.
” said the assembled circus-goers, who were taken by the cuteness of the barbaric spectacle.
Branden Helger, 9, said Topsy was his favorite performer at Ringling Bros. because the elephant knew how to do neat tricks like pretending to limp. The third-grader also excitedly pointed out the “cool necklace” clamped on the animal’s foot.
Topsy and the other elephant performers, who are separated from each other at all times, preventing the socialization that’s so crucial to their well-being, received a standing ovation from the crowd when they marched into the center ring, nervously rocking back and forth.
“Look, they’re dancing,” said 5-year-old Jonah Meeks, mistaking the elephants’ constant swaying for something that wasn’t a maladaptive behavior caused by serious psychological trauma. “I can dance like an elephant, too. Look at me!”