Posts Tagged ‘circus’

100_1414Recently, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced their decision to discontinue the use of elephants in their acts beginning in May.  This news came to the near-delight of many animal activists and advocates who were frustrated with Ringlings’ initial release that they would be phasing out their elephant acts gradually, by 2018.  Many of the comments on social media and to journal and newspaper articles that address the decision, though, are by disappointed and angry parents and grandparents whose children will miss out on seeing an elephant balance on an oversized ball or a fancily dressed acrobat ride on her back.

In these comments also is hate and contempt for those activists who “lie” about The Greatest Show on Earth and its treatment of the animals in its care. As if they have have some ulterior motive, a true attempt just to spoil everyone’s fun.

The abuse and mistreatment at Ringling Brothers, as well as a host of other facilities that keep captive wild animals and, in particular, elephants, is well-documented. This is just one example:

While the Ringling Brothers’ elephants “retirement” came as good news to those of us who have advocated for it over many months and years, it still leaves many (if not most) of us with concerns.  The elephants that are currently performing in circus acts will be moved to Ringlings’ own Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC) in Florida.  Unlike the sanctuaries that have been set up for retired elephants like the The Elephant Sanctuary, in Hohenwald, Tennessee, which provide open grassland and freedom to roam, sleep, bathe in the lakes, and live as they wish:

the CEC is a breeding and research facility, which breeds its elephants (often by artifical insemination) to preserve the species and conducts studies using the animals to assist in human cancer research.  As the following article describes, the elephants are housed in large barn-like rooms with cement floors and barred enclosures.  Staff continues use of the bull hook, the elephants are chained at night, and they are given daily baths by their keepers.

This documentation was provided by a worker at CEC who witnessed first-hand and participated in many of the abuses there.

The behavior condoned by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is common among other (although not all) facilities that keep captive wild animals, including other circuses, zoos, aquariums, and animal parks.  We don’t hear about it often or we are told that those who protest it are “lunatics” or “on the fringe.” These facilities are, above all else, businesses, and to lose the support of the general public or corporate sponsors cuts into their bottom line.

That makes it even more critical for those of us who have the compassion – not just for these animals, but for all animals – to stand up and speak up.  You can do NO harm by sharing and spreading your compassion with and to others.

I leave you with a question to think about:  Would you rather live a life in a cage, beaten, under someone’s constant control, chained, forcibly bred, your children taken away at 2 years of age, no companions with which to express your emotions?  Or would you rather live a life roaming freely with your family and friends, able to bathe when you wish, lie down and sleep under the stars, and cuddle your children?

Yeah, I thought so.