Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Saddest Show on Earth

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus is making its way around the east coast at the moment. Having recently come through the New York area on their 11-month tour of the United States. It may be coming to a town near you very soon. Before you even consider buying a ticket to any animal circus, understand the magnitude of cruelty, exploitation and disregard for the interests of animals necessary to have them "perform" for your entertainment.

Tigers, lions, bears, elephants, and other animals do not willingly or happily ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls, or jump through rings of fire. This isn’t their natural behavior, nor do they perform these and other tricks because they want to; they perform them because they're afraid of what will happen if they don't.

Unsuspecting parents planning a family trip to the circus don't know about the constant confinement and violent training sessions with ropes, chains, whips, bullhooks, and electric shock prods that animals endure. Undercover footage and heartbreaking photos obtained from even a casual Google search demonstrate the reality of what circus animals experience. In addition, as recently as November 2011, the Ringling Brothers Circus was fined $270,000 by the United States Department of Agriculture for violating the Animal Welfare Act on at least 27 different occasions between 2007 and 2011.

Even if reformed, however, the treatment of animals in entertainment by itself, does not address the underlying circumstances in which such forms of animal exploitation are considered acceptable. Circuses and other forms of animal “entertainment” exist because human consumers persist in creating demand for such things. To an industry that views sentient creatures as economic units – it is inevitable that such exploitation and violence will be viewed as acceptable. In a system where animals are considered the property of humans, even their most significant interests can (and are) eclipsed by the comparably trivial human interest of profit. Trying to "balance" the interests of a piece of property against the interests of a property owner is like playing in a rigged card game. Because the mechanisms in place are fundamentally unfair, it simply can’t be done.

It's 2012, and entertainment for children or adults need not come at the expense of animals, so don’t take part in it. Refuse to support animal circuses and the use of animals in entertainment. And while you're at it... if you believe in taking the interests of animals as seriously as say... the family dog or cat, then go vegan. Animals are not our property to use, abuse or consume.


  1. Since I've always hated to circus anyway, it wouldn't take much for me skip it completely. I think as more people become aware of just how much animals are abused for our pleasure, things like the circus and the racetrack might become more and more unpopular in the future.

  2. I agree. I've never understood the attactions of the circus. Of course, I don't think people should be "owning" animals at all, so my views may be a bit out of the mainstream.

    Nice work, Demo. It's nice having someone with your expertise on these issues writing on this blog!

  3. Thanks for the kind words, Mike. I very much appreciate the opportunity to be blogging here with all of you.


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