The Elephant in the Circus


This is a story that has become an Internet meme, and that search engines are unable to find a definitive source of. So I’m writing it here for posterity.

The Story of the Elephant in the Circus

I once went to a circus and saw a huge elephant tied to a small pole with a rope, just standing there. So I wondered why the is elephant so obedient and doesn’t break away from the stick with all of its enormous strength and mass. So they told me this story: once when the elephant was very young, it was tied to the pole the same way. Naturally, it didn’t like that and tried to escape, but try as it might, the rope and the pole were too strong for it. So the elephant eventually gave up.

Later on, when it was older, the elephant still believed it could not escape from the rope, and remained standing in the same place, despite the fact it could then easily escape.

Now, we humans often have various tasks that we tried to do when we were younger and failed, and still believe that we are unable to do. But as opposed to the elephant, we have enough intelligence and insight to know better than to believe we are still unable to perform these tasks. So if you have something that you fear to do because you failed once, now is the time to know better than the elephant, and realise that you may now be capable of doing it.


The story is not original, but the text is. The text is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 Unported (or at your option, any later version). In order to attribute the text to me (= Shlomi Fish), please link to this page and to my homepage.

I don’t know who originated the original story, which I received by E-mail once (in Hebrew), but I’d appreciate any insights or leads for its source.