Here’s a picture of an elephant with a whip trainer from a vintage circus magazine:
That sure is a sad looking elephant. Ringling doesn’t use whips (currently or in recent memory) in any of their elephant performances. I’ve got a buddy that was an circus elephant trainer a long time ago and he’s told me that he’d never used whips to train or perform with elephants. I think this is an “artist’s representation” of the act.
I’m always fascinated with how whips are portrayed to the non-whip public. For example people are aware of lifestyle whip use, and whips used in performance, but are pretty much unaware of sport whip cracking.