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Last Chain On Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top Hardcover – July 22, 2014
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*Starred Review* Like the majority of captive elephants, Billie was captured as a calf, surfacing in the U.S. in 1966 as a four-year-old. After several years in a private zoo, she joined the circus, where she was trained to perform. Circuses are an extremely demanding environment for elephants, with constant travel from one town to another, multiple shows per week, and continuous noise. Although she learned difficult tricks and was a star, Billie rebelled and began to be known as a difficult elephant, gaining a reputation for attacking her trainers. Meanwhile, two former elephant trainers had grown disenchanted with circuses and the distorted lives that circus elephants lived, and they decided to found a sanctuary for former performing elephants in Tennessee. The story of how Billie got to the Elephant Sanctuary, and of how the sanctuary overcame the prejudices of both the circus and zoo communities, is both heartrending and uplifting. Full of details of the brutal life endured by performing elephants, of battles between Billie’s owner and the U.S. Department of Agriculture over her ultimate fate, and of Billie’s eventual adjustment to a life of freedom, Bradley’s newest (after Saving Gracie, 2010) has produced a well-researched winner. --Nancy Bent
"Carol Bradley’s Last Chain on Billie deserves a standing ovation! It is a heart-rending and, unfortunately, deadly accurate description of elephant suffering in circuses and zoos. Please read Last Chain on Billie. It will help you understand why the animal rights movement is sweeping the country.—Bob Barker "Last Chain on Billie is a wonderful book. It is well-written, well-researched, and well thought out. You cannot read it without realizing how extraordinary elephants are and how extraordinarily bad humans, until only very recently, have treated them. To understand what has happened to change our attitude, I can think of no better book than this. It is a labor of love, and I know many people will respond in kind. Anyone who loves elephants will love this book."— Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Ph.D., author of Dogs Never Lie About Love and Beasts: What Animals Can Teach Us About the Origins of Good and Evil
"Last Chain on Billie is a fact-filled page-turning biography of a magnificent circus elephant's long, painful, and unpredictable journey from reprehensible confinement to freedom. It is at once riveting, haunting, and inspirational. Billie's story kept me up at night - tearful and joyful - as she entered and then wouldn't leave my heart. I also was deeply moved by the selfless work of the wonderful people who ultimately were able to free her once and for all so she could live out her life in safety and peace and with the dignity she so deserves. This outstanding and groundbreaking book will make a difference for other circus elephants and other 'entertainment animals' who find themselves living horrific and hopeless lives filled with fear, stress, and uncertainty. It gave me hope." — Marc Bekoff, author of Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed, The Emotional Lives of Animals, and Rewilding Our Hearts
"Today, Billie must celebrate every day, for she enjoys a more normal life, thanks to caring humans who spoke up for her and her like. Although the dream of returning to her homeland and her family can never be fulfilled, at least she has other elephant friends and caring humans who treat her kindly. Her story will go a long way towards helping others and saving them from a cruel life of bondage and servitude. Her story will educate people around the world about the nature of her iconic species, sparing many other young elephants miserable captivity." — Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi, Kenya, and author of Love, Life, and Elephants
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I enjoyed the book, but I must admit it was very very difficult for me personally to read. I am hyper-sensitive to animal abuse and welfare and I actually had to skip some detailed parts that described heartbreaking abuse, mistreatment, and death.
All in all a very well researched, detailed and written book with about 16 photos for readers to enjoy.
Kudos to the people in a position to provide the dedication, devotion, compassion and a voice for all the animals that are ripped from their natural environments, hunted, exploited, abused and forced to suffer in captivity all their remaining lives.
Just as with human children, they get confused about the lesson. Raising ones voice changes the positive dynamics of the situation.
What a Reveal on how Damn BRUTAL & SAVAGE ALL CIRCUS` are. It SHOULD BE A FELONY CRIME TO MISTREAT & or ABUSE ANY OF GOD'S VOICELESS CREATURES.!! PRISON FELONY. STAYING ON YOUR RECORD PERMANENTLY. It is said "You can tell the character of a man, through the way he treats animals
Billie now lives the life of relative freedom at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (of which I am an ongoing supporter), but she is one of the few lucky ones who escaped the disgusting and disturbing life she was forced into, even though she will forever live with the post traumatic stress disorder that permeates her existence. Carol Bradley does an excellent job of not only telling Billie's story (and the other Hawthorn elephants who suffered along with her) but she also goes into great details regarding the history of elephants in circuses and zoos in this country, how elephant trainers and groomers feel about their methods of training and their treatment of these unfortunate souls, detailed explanations of those training and dominating methods used to break the elephant's spirit, and the many historical stories about specific pachyderm encounters throughout history, many of which are truly heart wrenching to read. Going to a zoo or a circus does not give the public an accurate depiction of the life an elephant leads in captivity in the 21st century. But this book does. Buy it. Read it. And pass it on. It is that important.