Is it cruel to work elephants?
Humans long have domesticated some animals for the work that they provide. Dogs help with the flock. Horses, donkeys, and camels carry passengers and load. Oxen pull carts. For thousands of years, elephants have been trained as working animals. Jon Katz argues that is no more wrong than the use of working dogs. Megan O’Malley, who worked at Ringling Brothers, describes the loss of the circus from the inside.
No doubt, working animals have been abused. And standards evolve — we would cast a dour eye on turnspit dogs. Though I am not sure that is any worse that purposely breeding dogs with skull deformities that cause breathing problems. Like Katz, what I see in PETA is zealotry and a lot of dollars being collected from those with soft hearts, rather than any real attempt to define ethical standards in the treatment of animals.