Animal Studies Journal

Article Title

Condors in a Cage


Annie was carried away by a 13,000-lb. elephant during a Circo Hermanos Salamanca performance in Mexico City. Anabella La Bella was a Namibian-born orphaned elephant who had been auctioned off, transported from Southern Africa to the Mexican Valley as special, oversized cargo, and forced to perform among the dirt and the lights and the ¡Órale! of Mexico City. During the Circo Hermanos Salamanca performance, Annie and her sister tried, with exceeding effort, to seem calm as the trapeze artists swung themselves in the air, floating above them with no apparent sense of mortality. Annie remembered the scene in Batman Forever when Robin’s parents were doomed to fall to their deaths at the Gotham City circus. Doña Teresa tried to focus her granddaughter’s attention, squealing: ‘¡Annie, mira!’ Anabella, well-trained Namibian-imported-quasi-Euro-Mexican elephant that she was, automatically turned when she heard the squeal, processing where she thought she had heard the command: ¡Aní mira! To her trainer, Anabella was simply ‘Aní’ when she performed a trick warranting a prize of a cantaloupe covered in syrup. Anabella would eat through the fruit’s rind until she reached the melon-flesh that she savored patiently.