This film is part of Free

Beached Elephants

Sophie, Dumbo, Sue and Francis dip their toes in the sea.

News 1966 1 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Four elephants are walked through the town of Weymouth to the beach and a welcome dunk in the sea. Sophie, Dumbo, Sue and Francis are four Asian elephants from Chipperfield’s Circus and although this is a publicity stunt, the elephants are keen to cool down. One onlooker admits she was so startled to see the elephants walking along the seafront that she didn’t brake in time and drove into the back of the car in front. Was this breaking or braking news back in the day?

Today many countries impose an outright ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses thanks in part to campaigns led by NGOs such as UK-based Born Free Foundation who set up ENDCAP, a coalition of European animal welfare organisations and wildlife professionals concerned with how wild animals are treated in captivity. Society has come to question the ethics of keeping wild animals for performance, including in advertising or on film sets where the welfare of wild animal performers, how they are kept, used and trained as well as the threat they may pose while on set, are also subjects of debate. According to recent studies, elephants may live up to half as long when kept in captivity.