Monday, March 4, 2013

The Circus is in Town

Today as I am driving to work, I hear an advertisement on the radio that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming to Washington D.C. in a couple weeks. The lady on the commercial sounded so excited, apparently the theme this year is dragons. To me, circuses are so obviously cruel I forget how people can actually talk about them like they are a fun and something to be enjoyed. Even as a child, I remember my mother becoming upset about the circus, and she would not let me go because she said they were inhumane. Thanks to her, and my own sense of morale, I have always boycotted circuses, and urge those around me not to attend. Unfortunately, year after year, they continue to come to town. I always feel extreme sadness about the fact people still pay to attend circuses.

The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has repeatedly exposed the abuse and neglect animals in the circus endure. Although the lights and the tricks cleverly disguise what is going on, the animals performing in the circus are not actually having a good time. According to PETA, the animals are trained these tricks using cruel methods. Even though it is denied, there is evidence Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus continues to use bull hooks and other methods that cause pain to get the animals to learn tricks. Some people think animal activists are exaggerating and inflating what the animals experience, however, most accounts come from former circus employees themselves.

I have had conversations with people who still believe circus is a lot of fun, and I think this perception is a result of a lack of understanding about the needs of animals. Research on elephants show circuses are not a suitable environment for their needs, because they enjoy roaming miles each day in the wild. Other circus animals such as tigers also do not thrive in circuses because they do not meet their primal needs. A life in captivity will never fully meet the natural needs of these wild animals.

Many people are completely oblivious to the harsh living conditions animals in the circus experience. Animals in the circus live a life on the road, which means hours in train cars and chains as they are transported from city to city. No matter how much the circus claims to be fun for the animals, no living being can enjoy being trapped in a small, dark box car, sometimes forced to stand in their own waste for long periods of time. As long as the circus exists, it will be cruel. The animals will never choose to perform, so there will always be force to get them to do the tricks that are dubbed entertaining.

Why do you think so many people still go to the circus, even though there is so much documentation on the cruel conditions the animals face? What have you done to help circus animals? If the circus is coming to you soon, check out page on steps to take. 

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