Thursday 16 April 2020 | 2

A year of being undercover and observing in order to be able to offer freedom to Baby!

We have investigated for months and have documented to the maximum the conditions of detention to which Gilbert (alias Yeuk) Bauer has kept Baby, an elephant which he has exploited for more than thirty years. We denounce him and his organisation, we want to free her from this life of hell! But to obtain a seizure, and to be able to place her in a sanctuary, justice and the authorities have always asked us for more evidence on what we are demanding. Violations, reports ... nothing ever seems to be enough. So here is the account from a year of diligent investigation, during which we crossed France to follow Baby and her days of confinement. Between the years, we have been monitoring and reporting, tailing her and continued to pursue our undercover work…

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Since our meeting over fifteen years ago when she was exhibited alongside Micha, Bony and Glasha, we have been following Baby. Since her capture in Kenya when she was barely two years old and the certain massacre of her family, she has been dragged by force from circuses to animal parks. She has been exploited under marquees, at fairs, village festivals, advertisements and television and radio broadcasts, historical re-enactments and even films…

She is forced to obey, under penalty of being beaten with an ankus or even being deprived of a meal… Worse still: she complies obediently, because getting out of the truck, her prison cell, is still her only relief, even if it is only to take a few steps. At least she is able for a few minutes, to feel the fresh air circulating around her numb body ... Even if means that you have to perform painful poses under a noisy marquee. 

This is what her life and her future will continue to be reduced to if we do nothing. Because we have done the math: Baby spends 96% of the day in the truck during performances, and 100% the other days. This truck which barely allows enough room for her to turn around on herself.

From April to November 2019, when "freedom" rhymes with dungeon

Since our last procedure, we wanted to show as many people as possible the ordeal that is Baby’s life. Two steps from Saint Paul Park, where Kid Bauer also exhibits his feline babies, and from the village where Mario Masson’s ten tigers are kept, Baby has suffered for months.

In April, May, August and September, our investigators went to Kid Bauer's Parc Saint Léger, from where they returned, stunned: alternating between tigers and babies being photographed with the public, Baby is also part of the program for the opening season, at the rate of one hour a day per show, when the park is open. Planned at the end of June 2019 near 1000 km from this park, Baby’s trained act in an ancient festival will be cancelled thanks to the mobilization of animal defenders under the impetus of the Code Animal.

On the park map is the elephant enclosure. On the spot, however, one finds there only waste ground, with a wire  as a barrier, badly attached to the trees at the edge of the forest. The pamphlet states that she is walking "free" in the park, where she can be seen after the show. And indeed, after the show, Gilbert Bauer walks for a few minutes, Baby breaks branches by his side, it is the illusion of freedom. It is even possible to approach her; no security barrier is in place. Only the presence of the trainer appears to be enough for the authorities...

For several months, a daily danger!

Her freedom stops there: even in this animal park, everything is just glitter and pretence! In seven months, she has never set foot in the “elephant enclosure”. Because while the park promises mountains and wonderous things, we who have been hidden for days on the edge of their property have been able to observe Baby's real daily life. On the other side of the road, the poor elephant with fragile feet remains confined in the truck which serves as her dungeon.

When the park does not open - in other words every day except weekends and school holidays - or when the performance is cancelled, for lack of customers or if the weather is not suitable, Baby doesn’t go out either. At most Gilbert Bauer opens one of the rear flaps of the truck so that she has some light and air. But she’s not even allowed to stretch her legs. And having access to water to drink only during the morning and evening cleaning time, she spends rainy days searching the roof of the truck with her trunk for something to drink. The rest of the time, she turns on herself slowly, taking care not to bump into the walls, or sways from right to left, as do all captive wild animals to express their suffering.

In December, the park closes before the scheduled date and Baby disappears: no trace of the trailer. A phone call tells us the park next year will no longer feature wild animals in their shows. Following repeated comments from customers and "pressure from animal rights groups it appears the park has got the message”. However, at the end of February 2020, the Bauer couple's truck and caravan are back on site ...

Go to Aubevoye, March 11th in an emergency

While we were on the point of proving Baby's presence on the park, we were contacted urgently on March 11th to go to the Cirque de Paris to determine which elephant was part of the show in Gaillon. Was it Dumba, "rented" several times by this circus? In the ring, no doubt, it's Baby. She runs around under the gaze of the spectators, oblivious to her misfortune and the danger: many of them take pictures of her during the intermission or follow her after the show to her truck.

For several days in a row, Baby will remain confined to the interior of the truck. And as always, she will only be allowed to walk outside of her tin box once a day to ... go to the marquee. Lockdown and submission, same old routine, she’s grown sick of it.

Undercover tracking enlivened at the start of confinement!

In March 16th, the circus was preparing to break camp. So as not to lose track of Baby and to know where she will be during confinement, the extent of which we don’t know as yet, we are organizing the emergency tracking of these trucks. For hours, Baby is tossed around inside the trailer. The convoy eventually stopped at nightfall near Vierzon on a circus field. A new location? Should the undercover tracking continue the next day? Certificates must now be produced to justify our trips ... The choice is made to stay nearby, at least until the next day, as long as it is possible. In the early morning, the convoy leaves. After a few hours on the road, they have stopped for inspection, we lose sight of the truck. We end up finding them and follow until they arrive at a property in the South of France ... The trailer truck is parked in front of a hangar. Up until we left, Baby did not get out of the truck.

We had everything planned to follow Baby again, a trained elephant in great suffering, subjected to a life of slavery. As this confinement drags on, it forces us to postpone this painstaking work which consists of accumulating clear evidence of the mistreatment of which she is the victim. But our team is more determined than ever. We will not stop as long as Baby is in the hands of her trainer! Her place is in a sanctuary.

Julia Mothé
Hr blog

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Comments 2

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trochu | Monday 20 April 2020

Baby doit être libéré au plus vite, tout comme les autres animaux sauvages encore enfermés dans des cirques. On doit repenser les animaux comme DES ÊTRES VIVANTS à part entière qui ont besoin de vivre libres et non pas dans des cirques. Il faut maintenant informer et sensibiliser au maximum les populations quant au grand respect, considération, protection et défense de tous LES ANIMAUX ET DANS TOUS DOMAINES. Nous sommes égaux aux animaux et non "supérieurs". C'est le moment où jamais de faire pression auprès de toutes les autorités concernées. Les cirques oui mais sans animaux. Merci à ONE VOICE pour se battre.

Raphaële | Thursday 16 April 2020

Pour la liberté immédiate de Baby