Posted by The Vegan Bear
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.
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.