The Donald Trump presidential campaign has recently been compared to a circus. Now a live elephant has given legitimacy to the comparison.
An elephant named Essex joined Trump’s campaign stop in Sarasota, Florida exhibiting the slogan: “Trump, Make American Great Again” on her body. The female Asian elephant is owned by Trump supporter Frank Murray who has been repeatedly arrested for animal cruelty.
Trump’s two sons are also into elephants and big game hunting in Africa. Donald Trump Jr. sawed off the tail of an elephant while on safari in Africa and posted the picture online.
The elephant, according to The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, belongs to Frank Murray, a circus elephant exhibitor who “is such a big Trump fan he decided to donate the free use of his elephant for the campaign event.”
“I’m doing this for love of America,” said Murray, who lives in the Gainesville area. “I’m a Trump fan. The man knows how to make money. He knows what America is all about and he can get America back on track.”
— Adam Wright (@AdamWINKNews) November 28, 2015
Murray owns at least one Asian elephant under the company name “Elephant Walk,” and travels around the country renting them for events, renaissance fairs and circuses. Documents show that an elephant owned by Murray who died last year tested positive for tuberculosis, a disease that commonly crops up in captive elephants, who often inhale particles of excrement infected with the disease. Murray’s elephants were temporarily banned from entering several states, for fear that they would infect other animals.
In 1996, Murray was charged with four counts of animal cruelty for “inflicting unnecessary cruelty towards a living animal and not providing proper sustenance to a living animal.” A warrant was issued for his arrest, which he evaded for 16 years. Murray was finally arrested in New Jersey in 2011, according to the animal welfare group Born Free. After the arrest, the Piccadilly Circus severed its contract with Murray, who had previously loaned it elephants for performances.
In recent posts on the company’s Facebook page, spokesperson Lauryn Murray has repeatedly called for her supporters to oppose bullhook bans, or pieces of legislation meant to outlaw the use of sharp metal sticks that are used in circuses to corral elephants. Several states have already passed their own bullhook bans.
Trump has had to deal with a media frenzy involving an elephant before—one that was no longer living. After a photo surfaced showing Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., standing over the carcass of an elephant he’d shot and holding its tail, Trump senior defended the kill.
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