- 79,00 kr
Against the backdrop of a glittering but brutal circus world, Carol Bradley's Last Chain on Billie charts the history of elephants in America, the inspiring story of the Elephant Sanctuary and the spellbinding tale of a resilient elephant who defied the system even as she struggled to conquer her past, who never lost sight of the life she was meant to have.
Left in the wild, Billie the elephant would have spent her days surrounded by family, free to wander the jungles of Asia. Instead, traders captured her as a baby and shipped her to America, where she learned to carry humans, stand on a tub and balance on one leg – the full repertoire of elephant tricks. For decades, Billie crisscrossed the country, dazzling audiences as she performed breathtaking stunts. But behind the scenes she lived a life of misery: traveling in trucks, chained for hours on end, barely able to move, giving eight-minute performances under harsh lights and to the sounds of blaring music. And worse.Finally, she got a lucky break. As part of the largest elephant rescue in American history, Billie wound up at a sanctuary for performing elephants in Tennessee, able once more to roam through open meadows and share her days with a herd. She would never be beaten again. But, overcome with anxiety, she withdrew from the rest of the elephants and refused to let anyone remove a chain still clamped around her leg. Her caregivers began to wonder if Billie could ever escape her emotional wounds. The compelling story of Billie's battle to reclaim her old self is a testament to the intelligence, emotional complexity and remarkable strength of all elephants, captive or free.
Journalist Bradley (Saving Gracie) chronicles the bitter-sweet life of Billie, an Asian elephant abducted in the wild and forced into the cruel world of circus performing. In 1972 Billie was purchased by Chicago millionaire John Cueno Jr. for his exotic animal menagerie, and for decades hauled across the country to perform in circus after circus, working the "same mind-numbing routine." In 1996, when Billie and two other elephants finally enter retirement at one of Cueno's facilities, they are met with more dismal conditions. When Billie is finally relinquished in 2005, she is sent to the Elephant Sanctuary where former trainers Carol Buckley and Scott Blais begin the slow process of her mental and physical recovery. Interspersed throughout, Bradley recalls American history's most famous elephants, stories marred by tragedy, like Topsy, electrocuted by Thomas Edison in 1903, and Big Mary, hanged by a crane for killing a trainer in 1916. She concludes with the shady dealings of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. The mistreatment of circus elephants, historically and presently, has been detailed elsewhere, but every animal's story is important and Billie's features a rare happy ending.