Elephant stunt wows and triggers heated debate

Is it cruel to train animals in zoos and circuses? The years-long debate has been given new fuel by a viral video showing a giant elephant performing an extraordinary trick.

An elephant performs an amazing balancing act in the viral video.
An elephant performs an amazing balancing act in the viral video.  © Screenshot/Twitter/MorissaSchwartz

Morissa Schwartz probably never expected her video to generate such attention. But soon after posting, her elephant clip went through the roof.

Within one day, the vid had been viewed more than 300,000 times and liked by thousands.

But not everyone was so happy with the video - in fact, many users slammed its content.

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The seven-second snippet shows a huge elephant apparently being showered off with a hose.

Then, the animal performs a rare trick.

It leans forward and shifts its weight to its front legs and trunk. Then it swings its hind legs in the air, for an almost perfect "hand" stand.

The stunt is impressive, especially for such a heavy animal. Schwartz obviously thought so, too.

"I did not know [elephants] could do this," she captioned the video. In the recording, you can hear how some viewers react ecstatically to the balancing act, and others online heralded the elephant "yoga."

But most on Twitter ... not so much. There, users responded quite oppositely.

Elephant tricks causes outrage on social media

Morissa Schwartz's elephant video has since gone viral.
Morissa Schwartz's elephant video has since gone viral.  © Screenshot/Twitter/MorissaSchwartz

"That's not a cute trick the elephant just does [...] A wild animal was kept in captivity and abused for human entertainment," one user pointed out.

Another agreed: "I don't see this as clever or cute, I just wonder what the poor thing had to go through to learn this."

A Twitter user responded with one possibility: "An elephant to do that is crushed with blows and tortured since it was a child, in addition to being stolen from the wild ... Don't promote this."

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"Think about deleting this tweet," another wrote. "You're getting clicks by posting an animal cruelty video."

So far the video has not been deleted, and the debate continues.

Cover photo: Screenshot/Twitter/MorissaSchwartz

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