21-Year-Old Acrobat Develops Unusual Connection With His Elephant Friends

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You don’t always hear about animals being treated nicely at the circus. But this young acrobat and animal trainer is living the dream, next to his elephant family. He’s spent years and years of training with them and these elephants trust him and love him back.

Do you doubt it? Then check out these awesome photographs with Rene Casselly Jr. and his best friends, Betty, Kimba, Mambo, Nanda and Tonga, the elephants.

20. The African Elephant

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This huge and dangerous animal, the African elephant, can grow up to 10 feet tall, but Rene Casselly Jr. is fearless when it comes to his beloved elephants that have been by his side all his life.

19. Animal Trainer and Acrobat

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Rene is not only their friend, but he’s also their trainer and an acrobat at the National Circus at Lake Balafon, in Hungary. Rene is half German and half Belgian and his incredible stunts have made him famous.

18. Sharing With the Internet

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The young man has an Instagram account on which he shares his stunts and skills in tumbling and jumping, all done with the help of elephants and horses. He also shares cute moments when he loves and cuddles his friends!

17. Seven Generations of Animal Trainers

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Until his 20th anniversary, Rene has already been performing for four years for the circus. Moreover, he is the seventh generation animal trainer in his family. Here’s what he said about the elephants…

16. His Family of Elephants

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‘They are like my family, I grew up with them. They are like my brothers and sisters,’ said Rene. And in his spare time, you will find him with the elephants, bonding and having fun together!

15. Swimming With Them

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‘I like to go in the pools with the elephants, swimming with them’, said the young trainer. This is how he gets to do his stunts, by making the animals trust him and showing that he respects them. And he always does this next amazing thing…

14. Learning Stunts

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Rene learned to get thrown into the air by elephants and being flipped in the air by the trucks, tumbling on other elephants. He said that his ‘act with the elephant is a really unique act’ because he is the only one in the world doing it. And that’s not all!

13. Negative Reactions

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But when he posted his videos or pictures on Instagram, a lot of people have responded negatively, being concerned for the safety of the elephants in the circus. Guess what the young man said?

12. They Don’t Know About It

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‘Negative reactions I think are because the people don’t know really how the elephants are treated,’ said Rene. He then explained: ‘They are happy, they have their mud bath, they have everything they need’…

11. The Circus Can Also Provide a Good Life

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‘We’re trying to show off to the people that animals and elephants can have a good life in the circus too,’ said Rene. And, as for training, he said that he only trains his elephants with positive enforcement. This is what he does.

10. Watermelon, Bananas, and Apples

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‘The only thing you can teach an elephant with is food, you need a lot of food, they love to eat,’ explains Rene. So, the elephants will perform the trick, knowing they will get lots of their favorite food! The next photo is breathtaking!

9. We Don’t Do Negative Enforcement

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‘I don’t do any negative enforcement; the only thing is natural treatments. You can see that my elephants are happy, they are calm, they aren’t forced to do anything,’ said Rene. And they look happy!

8. The Best Way to Do It

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Rene chooses his circuses according to the elephants’ needs. He will only accept those places where his elephants can roam free and graze grass or bathe in mud. This is what he said about the living conditions…

7. The Elephants Are Free to Roam All the Time

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‘They are loose all day and all night, we don’t need to tie them to anything,’ said the young trainer. And he will not go to the circuses that won’t give his beloved animals a good treatment!

6. Getting Daily Baths

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‘Every circus who hires elephants or animals from us know that they can’t hire them if they can’t give good treatment,’ stated Rene. ‘I shower the elephants every day with a water pipe, brush and shampoo and after that they are in the field all day.’ And their shows are amazing, check them out in the following photos!

5. A Short Performance

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The time Rene uses his elephants for performance is quite short: ‘If we have a show, I take them to the circus five minutes before the show and they do a routine for six minutes and then they come back to the fields.’

4. A Symbol for Circuses

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The first time elephants have been introduced to circuses has been in the 19th century, at the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Hachaliah Bailey created the first circus in the U.S. after buying an African elephant in 1806, called ‘Old Bet’.

3. PETA Closing Circuses

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In time, many circuses that used animals for entertainment and didn’t treat them right or kept them caged and neglected, have been closed by animal welfare organizations like PETA.

2. Animals Retired

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Many of the animals used in circuses were retired and sent to animal sanctuaries or to conservation reserves. Right now, Rene is still surrounded by his friends, the elephants, and horses.

1. Check Him Out on Instagram

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Seeing how great he is with the animals, we can’t deny that he’s best friends with them and the animals feel safe with him around. His videos and photos posted on Instagram are proof that he is a great friend and an amazing artist as well!

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