During the audience shows, unsuspecting visitors were suggested that the elephants volunteered to perform the circus moves. But elephant experts have been emphasizing for years that elephants can only be forced to obedience by force. PETA has presented the internationally renowned elephant expert Carol Buckley several hours of research video material from the Hannover Zoo for evaluation. Buckley concludes that the elephants are trained with brute force and pain is inflicted on them repeatedly. This can also cause lifelong trauma in the sensitive animals. The elephants live in a constant environment of intimidation. According to Carol Buckley, training serves no other purpose than teaching the elephant circus-like tricks to entertain visitors [Download English / German Expertise].
A second expertise was obtained from Margaret Whittaker, who has been advising zoos and sanctuaries on keeping elephants for decades. Margaret Whittaker also confirms the violent, controlling approach to elephants and recommends that the zoo change immediately to the "protected contact" husbandry in order to significantly improve the quality of life of the elephants [download of the expertise
Furthermore, Dr. Olaf Behlert, former elephant curator and zoo veterinarian in the Cologne Zoo, prepared an expert report that was filed as additional evidence with the Attorney General Celle. In his 18-page evaluation of the footage, which lasts several hours, the expert leaves no doubt that the elephants were intentionally causing considerable suffering by the staff and that "clear and serious violations of the animal protection law" exist. In addition, Dr. Behlert, that "all interventions observed on the CDs [...] represent a pure dressage". "Not a scene involved events that could be assigned to veterinary measures."
The first expert opinion requested by the prosecutor of Prof. Dr. med. Hackbarth from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover and Dr. Ing. Böer, zoo director in Osnabrück, certified "that the animals had suffered considerable pain, suffering and damage". In contrast, the second expert, Dr. med. Hering-Hagenbeck, who keeps even elephants in direct contact at the Hagenbeck Zoo, that "prolonged or considerable pain for the affected animals could not be detected." He also spoke of "an exaggerated and inappropriate use of the elephant hook, the evidence for a Very strict and hard training at the Zoo Hannover documented ".
Ultimately, only one of the five available expert opinions was considered by the public prosecutor - Herring Hagenbeck.