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Bo's Story

This is Bo.

Bo was born at Busch Gardens in Tampa and is presently 34 years old. He was torn away from his family at less than ONE YEAR OLD and sent to California for training under the notorious animal abuser Gary Johnson. In the wild, male Asian elephants remain with their mothers until age 16.

What we then can't see during that period is the brutal training methods that would have been used to train Bo to perform stupid circus tricks. Those methods involve pain, fear, ropes, chains, bullhooks, tasers, and other instruments designed to terrorize the animal. Bo would have been roped down and tortured. He would have screamed for his mother out of fear and pain.

After 4 miserable years of training, he was sold to the Carden family, which owns a circus, at 5 years old.

The Carden family knew a moneymaker when he saw one. Performing males are not the norm. They tend to be ill-tempered and not suited to performance. But Bo was a beauty and stood out from the crowd due to his size and grand tusks.

For a number of years, Bo was leased to Ringling Bros by Carden. In 2001, during their 131st tour, Bo was the star of the show. The tour was titled "Bo and Bello" and Bo was featured in all of their advertising and in their toys . Bo was billed as "Worlds Smartest Elephant" and was noted to be able to respond to more than 60 cues which prompted various tricks. In 2005, Larry Carden signed Bo on to headline Ringling's red unit (the largest unit) where he performed for a number of years.

By 2010, Carden was leasing Bo to Jordan World Circus and he was rebranded as "The All-American Elephant." In that same year, Bo tested reactive on a blood test for TB.

2013 saw the beginning of CWI's founders' work against circus cruelty and the first glimmers of what would become CompassionWorks International. We captured video of Bo chained and forced to perform with UniverSoul in Florida.

In 2015, Bo was still being leased to the UniverSoul Circus. During one show Bo decided he'd had enough of being bullied and refused to leave the circus ring. Larry Carden proceeded to use the bullhook on Bo to force him to move and was captured inserting the hook into his mouth.

That same year, Carden realized he had a new enemy and began to attack CWI's work after we started creating graphics and videos revealing the truth of his animal abusing money making scheme.

Bo, and his companion Betty, stayed with UniverSoul through 2018 when abruptly--and after years of protests--UniverSoul unceremoniously quit using elephants and tigers in their act. Sadly, that was not the end of the line for Betty and Bo. They were leased to Garden Bros Circus in 2019, which is when we began capturing video after video of Bo exhibiting stereotypic behavior. Stereotypic behavior--repetitive movement like rocking, swaying or pacing--is indicative of mental or emotional distress.

In April 2019 CWI filed a USDA complaint for Bo after we captured video evidence of Bo forced to remain under a tarp chained by his leg on an asphalt parking lot.

Despite having been told by an insider that Bo had begun "misbehaving" and was pulled from performance, the USDA continued to do nothing to help Bo...who by this point was being dragged around the country only to stand alone in chains.

And here we are in 2021. Bo was forced back out on the road only to once again suffer. It is obvious to anyone who spends a bit of time looking at his life and trajectory that Bo is in extreme distress at this point and is a danger to himself and others. He is no longer the "All-American" or the great performer who can dazzle with a wide array of tricks. He's a sad animal, emotionally disturbed, who deserves a life in sanctuary far away from bullhooks and circus life.

CWI filed another formal complaint with the USDA yesterday noting numerous violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. And we will not stop fighting for Bo until he has the life he has more than earned.

Support CWI's work for Bo and for other animals by making a tax-deductible contribution.


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