Category Archives: Social Justice

St. Francis of Assisi, Pray for Us

“Francis ‘Neath the Bitter Tree”, icon by William Hart McNichols ©
Available for purchase at http://www.fatherbill.org

Today, October 4th  we celebrate the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi (1881/1882 – 1226).  St. Francis was a Catholic friar, preacher, and mystic.  He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis for men and women.  He’s known as the patron saint of animals, birds, and the environment, and unofficially a patron saint of the poor.  He is unarguably one of the most known and beloved saints of the Church.

Like so many others, I was drawn to the saintly life of Francis from a very young age.  His tender love for all of creation and the poorest of the poor was something that stood out to me.  For my Sacrament of Confirmation, I choose the name Francis and I had even thought about becoming a Franciscan at one point in my life.   Still to this day, Francis is a saint I look to for guidance, understanding, and inspiration in living my Christian life.  He played a profound role in my conversion to a vegan lifestyle and even this blog.  Over my desk where I do most of my work, hangs an icon of my favorite saint, which I reflect upon during my some of my daily prayers.

On his feast day one of the most common practices in the Church is the blessing of animals.  This is a beautiful gesture, but this is also a more than appropriate day to selflessly give of ourselves to others, our community, etc…and not just today, but everyday.  In 1995-96 I was a runaway youth on the streets of San Francisco.  In the chaos and turmoil of my young life I would somehow manage to attend daily mass at St. Boniface Church on Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco’s tenderloin district.  This parish was/is run by Franciscan Friars and is known for serving the poor and marginalized of the city.  On many occasions I saw some of the most magnificent acts of love and charity by these Franciscans.

One memory so vividly stands out..,after afternoon mass the Friars would distribute food to those in need, in fact on many occasions I my tummy was comforted by some of their humble offerings.  I remember sitting across the street in a park next to the church when I saw an elderly homeless man who was obviously very ill attempt to walk up the sidewalk to reach the area where food was being distributed.  An elderly Franciscan glanced over and saw him, stopped what he was going and came to assist him.   The man was filthy, barefoot, and filled with open sores on his feet and legs.  The Friar assisted him up to a bucket which was turned upside down and eased the man in having a seat.  The Friar went back towards the church and returned moments later with a large cup of water and food.  As the man began to eat, the friar got onto his knees and gently poured water over his feet, massaging the filth off, and used his robe to slowly dry his feet.   He then slowly bent down and kissed each one of his feet.   I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  I quickly looked around to see if anybody else was seeing what was happening, but nobody was.  The Friar then spoke to him some (and I was across the street and couldn’t hear what they were saying), but then the Friar took of his sandals and lovingly placed them on the man’s feet.   He let the man finish eating for about 10 minutes before helping him up, and helping him continue walking up to the church…the friar barefoot, and the homeless man in sandals.  It was like something we read about out of the gospels.  I was moved beyond words, and as I write this almost 20-years later, tears are falling down my cheeks like droplets of rain.

In a world still filled with so much pain, hunger, fear, neglect, hateful bigotry, deception, and vanity – faith, hope, and love are the medicines we need to give to all, without hesitations or reservations.  How blessed are we to have St. Francis who gave the entirety of his life to imitate Christ.  May we all be so inspired by Jesus and all of the holy men and women, such as Saint Francis, who have given all, to be all.  May we be inspired to live our lives in being generous messengers of hope, stewards of faith, and instruments of love.

Most high, almighty, and good Lord,
Yours is the praise, the glory, honor, blessing all.
To you, Most High, alone of right they do belong,
And no mortal man is fit to mention you.

Be praised, my Lord, of all your creature world,
And first of all Sir Brother Sun,
Who brings the day, and light you give to us through him,
And beautiful is he, agleam with mighty splendor:
Of you, Most High, he gives us indication.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sisters Moon and Stars:
In the heavens you have formed them,
bright and fair and precious.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
Through Air, and cloudy, clear, and every kind of Weather,
By whom you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water,
For greatly useful, lowly, precious, chaste is she.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
Through whom you brighten up the night,
And fair he is, and gay, and vigorous, and strong.

Be praised, O Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
For she sustains and guides our life,
And yields us diverse fruits, with colored flowers, and grass.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who pardon give for love of you, And bear infirmity and tribulation:
Blessed they who suffer it in peace,
For of you, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Brother Death of Body,
From whom no one among the living can escape.
Woe to those who in mortal sins will die;
Blessed those whom he will find in your most holy graces,
For the second death will do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and thank him too,
And serve him all, in great humility.

Canticle of the Creatures or the Canticle of Brother Sun.  A poem written in stages by St. Francis of Assisi from the period of the summer of 1225 until his death on October 4, 1226

 

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Another Day, Another American Mass Shooting

Monday mornings are when I sleep in as they’re typically my day off every week.   My routine for waking up consists of going pee, letting the dogs out to pee, then stumbling back to bed to finishing waking up.   It is there that I unplug my fully charged iPhone and start to read the Facebook posts of friends, family, and fellow activists whom most start their days earlier than I do.   The first post I read is from a friend, “Scary situation here in DC.  US Navy Yard is under lock-down.  Police everywhere in southeast section near DC.  I didn’t drive in today but if I did, I park very near to the Navy Yard.”   Before I reach for the remote control to turn on the bedroom TV, I comment:  “what happened?”  Already in my gut I knew that there has been some type of shooting.   I turn on my TV.

Myself and others from the community gather for a candlelight vigil in Freedom Plaza to remember the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shooting massacre.

Another mass shooting.  Reports confirm 4 dead and 8 wounded at the Washington Navy Yard; shooter(s) not yet apprehended.  I sat up in bed, stunned but not surprised.  I’m stunned to wake up and learn that a mass shooting has just taken place less than 9 miles away from me.  Not surprised that it has happened; even in our Nation’s Capital, even at the highly secured Washington Navy Yard.   As each hour passed, the death toll and injury count grew.  In the late afternoon, confirmation was given that 12 victims and the gunman were dead.

sigh

Has this epidemic of American gun violence, especially mass shootings become a new society norm?   Our lawmakers have continued to fail the American people.  With no consequences, they have been bought out by special interest gun groups such as the all-corrupt National Rifle Association which continues to bully the United States Congress with their perversions of the second amendment and their radical insurrectionist rhetoric.  Our elected officials have wiped their ass with the demand of 90% of their constituents and have continued to endanger the lives of innocent Americans.  Petula Dvorak, columnist for The Washington Post said perfectly in her piece this afternoon:

How can this country tolerate another mass shooting after we’ve endured so many others? And why have we allowed ourselves to grow accustomed to this awful bloodshed? Because that’s what these slaughters have become: practically routine.

“How many this time?” we ask as we watch the number of dead and injured climb on TV or Twitter.

….Apple pie, baseball and mass shootings? No. We can’t let slaughter become part of the way we define ourselves.

If we are truly the greatest nation in the world, if we the people truly have a voice, then we have the obligation and power to demand change today.   There is nothing that annoys me more than seeing “let’s pray for the victims of this shooting…” and “my heart goes out to the victims of that shooting and their families…”, yet that seems to be the extent of their action in addressing this very lethal problem which affects every community of our country.

Stand up and wake up, America!   Enough is enough!   Demand action NOW!

Never Forget

Twelve years later and I still remember that horrific day of terror, confusion, and pain as if it happened yesterday.  Quickly our nation came together in a way I had never seen before.   We held each other, we wept together, we consoled one another…then we went on with life.  We took down our American flags.   The benefit concerts ceased.   We picked up from where we left off…attacking one another.  In the midst of such tragedy and chaos a dozen years ago:  what happened to that spirit of loving unity that we all shared in?  It took the deaths of 2,977 people to draw us close together as a nation; a family…have we forgotten their memory already?

I will never forget.   September 11, 2001 woke me up and opened my eyes to see life in a totally new way.   It reminded me how love always prevails over hate.  It restored my faith in God and the brilliance of humanity.   Even amidst what seems like never-ending divisions in our world today, the lives and memory of those who perished live on in my heart.   They inspire me to continue to be an instrument for peace, when and wherever peace is needed.   Always remember.  Never forget.

May 11, 1933 - September 11, 2001

May 11, 1933 – September 11, 2001

 

Lord, take me where
you want me to go;
Let me meet whom you
want me to meet;
Tell me what You want
me to say, and
Keep me out of your
way.

 

This prayer was found in the pocket of Franciscan Friar Mychal Judge, the FDNY chaplain and first confirmed victim who died September 11, 2001 at ground zero.

The Top 5 Reasons I Went Vegan

Since I made the transition from a vegetarian diet to a full-fledged vegan lifestyle, I often get a lot of questions (and criticism) about why.   In all honesty, there’s countless reasons I could offer friends, family, and even strangers about why I made this life changing decision.   There are a lot of myths to veganism which I will eventually address in a future post, but today I want to share the top 5 reasons why I went vegan.

1. HEALTH

When I was around 23-years old, my health began to take a turn for the worse.   I began a heavy regimen of medications, visits to specialists, countless tests and medical procedures, etc.  At 25-years old my pulse jumped one evening to 220+ bpm as my heart went into Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).  Paramedics were called on my behalf and I was defibrillated three times while conscious.  Amazingly, that still didn’t correct the problem.   I would go through over two-dozen more episodes of SVT before I underwent a cardiac ablation surgery.   Still, my health worsened.   By 28-years old I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and began taking over 18 prescription medications multiple times a day.   All of this, many other conditions including my chronic back pain left me in a mess.   I was passionately and stubbornly in love with every type of meat, dairy, and seafood…yet veganism was not something that ever crossed my mind.

Finally in 2012, broken and desperate, I decided to try a vegetarian diet.   My world and health began to change almost immediately.   More fascinated on how something so simple could offer so much resolution to my health crisis, I decided to make a major life decision.  I decided to become a vegan.  Since 2012 I have been taken off all cardiac medications, now only taking two blood pressure medications.   I went from injecting two different types of insulin, to only taking an oral diabetes medication, to being taken off ALL diabetes medications.  On September 1, 2013 I will mark 9-months free of any diabetes medications.  I no longer take cholesterol medications.   In fact, my LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, as well as my triglycerides levels couldn’t be more perfect!  SInce going vegetarian (then vegan), I have nearly lost 70 lbs.!   I no longer need to use medicated shampoo for my irritated and often times, painful psoriasis on the back of my scalp.  My concentration and attention to detail is more clear than it has ever been, I didn’t even realize that my brain was living in a fog…I thought that was normal.  This list could literally go on and on, but these are some of the highlights.

2. COMPASSION

I’m an animal lover…always have been and always will be!  Far beyond I can even remember, I was absolutely awestruck, in love, and fascinated by animals.   As I was growing up, my passion, love, and respect for animals only grew…even though I was an omnivore.  I remember coming into contacts with vegetarians (and vegans, as rare as they were) in my high school years and always found their points of view very convincing and eye opening, yet not enough to tear me away from my beloved carne asada, chorizo, beef hamburgers…let alone sushi, lobster, or fresh caught trout (yes, I used to be quite the angler).  But the more I grew, the more I learned.

I began to look into the source of my meats, dairy, seafood, and even my clothing.   What I discovered was horrifying.  Yet I was somehow convinced that going vegetarian (or vegan for that matter) would not change the industry, so I went on with life with a “blind eye”.   Eventually my conscience (and health) started to catch up with me.  As a compulsive seeker of truth, turning a blind eye was becoming more and more difficult to carry out.  Eventually I would have to practically inhale anything that was meat and make sure that I didn’t think about the source while doing so.   This became exhausting, and my conscience started to catch up with me.   As a victim of gun violence and an advocate for gun-control legislation, I have often spoke about how it doesn’t matter how many thousands of innocent children die by gunshots in our country , but the fact that a single child dies by a gunshot….for one is far too many.  I began to equate the same reasoning to the horrors in the inhumane and ungodly treatment of animals we raise for food, milk, and products.

Enough was enough.  I couldn’t deny the truth any longer.   How can I profess my love for animals and my opposition to their abuse, neglect, and murder…yet scarf down a steak?  I was invalidating and contradicting my own personal convictions for ease and convenience.  I was an accessory to mass murder.  Many documentaries such as Food, Inc. and Vegucated helped change my life!

3. ENVIRONMENT

Climate change is no longer a myth.   It’s a fact.   And the data is scary.  Each and every one of us has a moral obligation and responsibility to discuss the global crisis.  The studies and data are bone-chilling and scary.

A recent United Nations report concluded that a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change.  And the U.N. is not alone in its analysis.  A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute.  Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from a standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against climate change than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid. And a German study conducted in 2008 concluded that a meat-eater’s diet is responsible for more than seven times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as a vegan’s diet is.  What most people don’t think about is the resources and energy (as well as pollution) it takes to manufacture meat…from growing feed for the animals, to processing their waste, consumption of water for the animals and growth of their food, pesticides, processing plants, rendering plants, rendering waste…the list goes on.   This is something the meat and dairy industry don’t want you to know.

And for the seafood so many love?   Meet overfishing:

  • 52% of fish stocks are fully exploited
  • 20% are moderately exploited
  • 17% are overexploited
  • 7% are depleted
  • 1% is recovering from depletion

One does not need to be a scientist to comprehend how this affects oceans and ocean life.  And like meat, there is the alarming environmental repercussions which come from seafood manufacturing and processing.

4. NATURAL

There’s no denying that vegan lifestyle is au naturel…if you take the natural way.   I’ll be the first to admit that natural veganism is something you strive for.  As with anything in life, there are a lot of unnatural and unhealthy ways to go about things, and veganism is not an exception.   However, with the right motives and drive, veganism offers a simplicity in being more natural as well as a burning desire to perfect the goal in becoming more natural and whole.   You begin to read every label…and for myself and many vegans, we put the products back on the shelf when we come across ingredients which contain ingredients we can’t pronounce…and of course, anything that is made from animal products (or has been tested on animals) goes back as well.

Learning to go natural is an organic and fresh experience.  It simply makes your soul feel good.   I shy away from overpriced and unhealthy “fake meats.”  Plus, meat just freaks me out, so why would I buy something that looks and tastes like meat.   I have fallen in love with growing our own food and buying from local farmers, makers, and manufacturers who believe and practice the same ethics as I do (or strive to), from people who embrace what this compassionate lifestyle provides us.

One of the many myths is this “diet” is expensive.   This lifestyle is remarkably inexpensive.  To my last calculation, our grocery bill has been cut by close to 65%.  This percentage doesn’t include the endless medication and medical appointment copays.  But it’s not really about the money.   It’s all about the feeling of fulfilment which is nothing less than an incredibly spiritual bond.   It may sound so cliché to spout that I’m a vegan for life, but so be it if it is.  I could never go back.  I would never go back.

IMG_76795. YUMMY

Do you know how many varieties and species of fruits and vegetables grow in the world?   What if I told you there we’re over 7,500 different types of apples alone which grow throughout the world?   And that’s just apples!  The selection of other fruits and vegetables is unthinkable.

Vegan cooking is fun, challenging, and delicious!  Another big myth about being a vegan is that our food is boring, bland, or lacking vital nutrients.   That’s just not true!  And as delicious as fresh fruits & vegetables, the food we eat does go far beyond that!

Vegan chefs took home the trophy at the 10th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational with a nondairy cheese winner, and vegan bakers have dominated the butter-and-egg fest that is Cupcake Wars…twice!  Chloe Coscarelli and Doron Petersan both earned top honors with nondairy creations.   In fact the best Macaroni & Cheese I’ve ever had is made fresh at Washington, DC’s Everlasting Life Cafe, an all vegan and 100% gluten-free soul food restaurant!   Yes…vegan soul food!  Since going vegan, I have been exposed to so many new and different vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other foods.   Your creativity and imagination are the only limit when it comes to preparing incredibly delicious vegan dishes!

We Still Have a Dream

IMG_7666

Fifty years ago today over 250,000 Americans set foot in The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, DC.   On this day, history was forever changed in the largest political rally for human rights and equality.   On this day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  That speech would eventually be ranked as the top American speech of the 20th century.  It was this very historic day which has been credited in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the ongoing pursuit for equality.  Tragically, it was a little more than four years later that Dr. King would be martyred by a racist sniper on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – August 28, 1963

Today, the life, wisdom, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resonates throughout the world.  There are few places in the world where this non-violent, peaceful visionary is not known.   Young children can recite various parts of his speeches as well as memorable quotes with pride and ease.   What is most amazing is how Dr. King has become embraced over all these years by many Americans, especially those who are minorities, ostracized, and discriminated against.  And though great strides have been made in the last 50-years, a lot remains to be done.  We have a long way to go before the visions of Dr. King for unity, equality, and peace are a true reality for all Americans.  In a recent poll; few think all of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s goals have been met.

Today I joined my fiancé, friends, and over 150,000 Americans on the National Mall to remember and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.   I spent the entire day surrounded by a sea of diversity – a beautiful rainbow of ethnicities, ages, faiths, backgrounds…documented and undocumented Americans, male and female, gay, straight, and transgender.  There are no words to describe the spirit of universal love and solidarity which was very much present this afternoon.  We listened to a vast array of speakers, some of whom included: Rev. Al Sharpton, Benjamin Todd Jealous, Dr. Eliza Byard, Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy, Rev. Dr. Bernice King, Martin L. King III, Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and so many others.

We were reminded of the progress which has been made, but the realities of what remains…a growing gap between the rich and poor, voter suppression, race driven murder victims such as Trayvon Martin, anti-equality legislation and homophobic hate crimes, and more.   As the Voting Rights Act continues to be attacked, former President Bill Clinton remarked, “A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.”

We were continually reminded by so many leaders this afternoon, “we’ve come too far to turn back now.”   We are Americans and we still have a dream and we have an obligation to keep that dream alive, one day passing the threshold from dream to reality.  President Obama hit the nail on the head when he said,

“Those are the victories they won, with iron wills and hope in their hearts. That is the transformation that they wrought, with each step of their well-worn shoes. That’s the debt that I and millions of Americans owe those maids, those laborers, those porters, those secretaries; folks who could have run a company maybe if they had ever had a chance; those white students who put themselves in harm’s way, even though they didn’t have to; those Japanese Americans who recalled their own internment; those Jewish Americans who had survived the Holocaust; people who could have given up and given in, but kept on keeping on, knowing that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

On the battlefield of justice, men and women without rank or wealth or title or fame would liberate us all in ways that our children now take for granted, as people of all colors and creeds live together and learn together and walk together, and fight alongside one another, and love one another, and judge one another by the content of our character in this greatest nation on Earth.

To dismiss the magnitude of this progress — to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed — that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years. Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Martin Luther King Jr. — they did not die in vain. Their victory was great.”

Think about where we’ve all come from and how far we’ve come.   The dream continues with the wisdom of our past heroines of freedom and elders.   The dream continues with you and I.  We are all called to be pavers in the road to equality, justice, and freedom.  We truly have a moral obligation and duty to stay steadfast, not only for the children of today, but for all future generations.   The dream continues with our commitment to love, service, and stewardship.

“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral.  And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long.  Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say…I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.  I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.  I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question.  I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.  I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.  I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison.  I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.”  

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The Drum Major Instinct (1968)

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears…and Elephants too

The life of a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey baby elephant.

For many, the idea of a family trip to the circus may be described as fun, adventurous, and entertaining.   For many, a family trip to the circus is a tradition of sorts…something that one grew up doing and has carried on the tradition within their own family.   Fortunately for me, the closest thing I ever saw to a circus when I was growing up was the trapeze acrobats performing at the Las Vegas Circus Circus hotel.  My dad was not fond of the circus, and it wasn’t until I grew up that I finally realized why.  In 2006 a friend of mine had free tickets to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Anaheim Pond in Southern California.   Little did I know this would be my first and last circus that involved animals.   Amidst all the fancy costumes, high-tech lighting, and special effects…were the quite clearly depressed, neglected, and miserable animals being forced to perform for the massive and very loud audience.  We wound up leaving about 40 minutes before the circus ended, as we I just couldn’t sit there and watch what I was witnessing.

After years of abuse, Tyke escaped from a circus, killing her ‘trainer’ before running out the door to get outside, then she was shot to death by police. She was shot nearly 100 times and it took two hours for her to die on the street.

How is this still allowed in the 21st century?   Money.   Money has everything to do with it.  circuses such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (the largest and most profitable show of its kind in history) have a bulk of cash to fight allegations and charges, manipulate the law, and buy their way out of trouble.   They also try to deceive their consumers with such programs as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in hopes that it will take the pressure and eyes off their ongoing abuse toward elephants and other animals used and exploited in their shows.   Fortunately, countless animal rights advocacy groups as well as local & federal law enforcement agencies are cracking down on this ongoing problem, but it will remain a problem until we ban circuses from using and exploiting animals in their revenue making productions.

Here are 15 Reasons to Boycott the Circus provided by Florida Voices for Animals:

1. Government inspection reports reveal ongoing mistreatment of animals in circuses.  Because of continued abuse of circus elephants, there is a pending lawsuit against Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

2. Many people claim that circuses are conservation programs for endangered species (such as the Asian elephant).  However no circus animal has ever been released to the wild and the conservation claim is merely a way to justify the exploitation of animals for profit.

3. Sweden, Austria, Costa Rica, India, Finland and Singapore have all banned or restricted the use of animals in entertainment. However, the US lags behind.

4. Elephants are trained to perform unnatural acts by the use of a “bullhook”, which is a 2-3 foot long club or stick with a sharp metal hook attached to the top.  It is repeatedly used to beat, hit and poke the animals, often leaving permanent scars.  There are numerous undercover videos and testimony from past circus employees corroborating this information.


5. Heavy, metal, and short chains are used to confine circus elephants.  The elephants are chained by one front leg and one back leg, preventing them from laying down.  The chaining of elephants also prevents them from interacting with other elephants, which is a natural behavior for elephants as they are very social creatures.

6. Ringling Brothers typically transport the elephants from city to city by train, chained by one front foot and one back foot and unable to lay down.  They are also kept in cramped conditions for over eight hours without stopping for water.  They are trained for 11 months and the one month they are not being trained, they are still confined in horrid conditions.

7. Elephant transportation vehicles lack climate control and are forced to stand for hours in their own waste.  The are compacted into small spaces for days on end.

8. In the wild, elephants live in large, sociable herds and walk up to 25 miles every day.  In addition to the physical abuse of circus elephants, they are also deprived of their freedom to roam and engage in their instinctual behavior, which includes socializing with other elephants.

 9. Although minimum legal protections are provided in the Animal Welfare Act, the law does not provide adequate protection for circus animals.  Often a veterinarian isn’t even on site and local vets are not knowledgeable about the unique medical needs of exotic animals.  Circuses are frequently cited by the USDA, the agency responsible for enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, for failure to keep veterinary records, for providing moldy or rancid food and no water, for storing chemicals near the animals’ food supply, and for stocking expired medications.

10. Every major circus that uses animals has been cited for violating the Animal Welfare Act.  These circuses are almost always given a slap on the wrist and forced to pay a minimal fine.

11. Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act is very difficult because the USDA, the agency responsible for enforcement, only has 100 inspectors to monitor conditions at approximately 12,000 facilities.

12. Although poaching is a problem in Africa, there are wildlife conservation parks that are constantly patrolled to ensure the safety of animals.  Elephant poaching has decreased since the highly enforced ban on the possession and sale of ivory.  In recent years, the elephant population has significantly increased due to conservation efforts.

13. Although circuses claim that they are a form of educating the public about elephants, there is no education in watching the exploitation of elephants that are cruelly trained to perform unnatural acts.  Circuses teach children that it is acceptable to exploit animals.  No research has been shown that attending circuses increases public concern about the status of an endangered species.

14. Elephants in the circus, regardless of how much they are “trained”, are still wild animals capable of and have a history of lashing out, escaping, and thus posing a risk to public safety.

15. Elephants in the circus often carry diseases such as tuberculosis (aka “TB”) and can infect humans with this disease.  Note that there is no cure for this disease in either elephants or humans.

The fact is, animals do not naturally ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls, jump through rings of fire, or piggy-back each other.  To force them to perform these confusing and physically uncomfortable tricks, trainers use whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, bullhooks, and other painful tools of the trade.

Please do NOT support any animal circus.  Animal abuse is not entertainment.   Together we can make a difference.   Please visit the following links below for a list if animal-free circuses as well as a petition to demanding action to help ailing elephants.

List of Animal-Free Circuses (PETA) 

Take Action to Help Ailing Elephants (PETA)

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