As adults we often have to take difficult decisions about how to bring up our children, what to expose them to, what to let them see and hear, while teaching them what we believe is right and what is wrong.
It is morally wrong to allow our children to think that elephants in circuses are living an acceptable life, when the evidence for the opposite is overwhelming. We may destroy some illusions by telling them this, but it is insincere to allow animals to suffer for the purpose of encouraging our children to appreciate them. What they see is not elephants showing any kind of normal behaviour. What they see is elephants forced to entertain us through the use of bullhooks and other abuse tools reminding them that the handlers is and must be in control.
Think for a moment about the global focus on whales. How many people has seen a whale in the wild, and really been able to observe its behavior? Very few. How many have seen one of the endangered species of whales in a circus? No one. And yet, people all over the world appreciate whales, their complex behavior and the need for their conservation.
We don't think many children would choose to go to the circus if they knew what takes place behind the scenes. The music, lights and glitter create an illusion that the animals are having fun. But, what they see is a ruse. The elephants are not happy, nor do they enjoy what they are doing. The basic training and maintenance of circus elephants involves serious emotional and physical abuse.