The Gift of the Circus
I kindly declined. There was outrage. Naturally.I can see the appeal — the lights, the glitter, the excitement. The circus has been around since January 9, 1768 so it’s no surprise to me the backlash I get from friends and family when I tell them that I will not be taking my kids to the circus. EVER. So, thanks for the tickets but no thanks.
“But how can you deny your kid this unforgettable experience?” I’ve often been asked. This post will answer that question, once and for all.
Going to the circus as a kid I can’t deny that I had fun. I remember thinking, “How’d they get that horse to do that?” or, “I can’t believe that tiger just jumped through a ring of fire!” Of course these are the sentiments of a lot of kids who see their first circus act. These kids are misinformed. I was misinformed. And it leaves me wondering if it would have been different had I know the truth behind the tent curtain.
I distinctly recall talking to a fellow mom on this topic and she feverishly agreed revealing her own experience of the circus. Here is the short of it:
When she was a little girl her mother took her to the circus. She was so excited it felt electric, she told me. She couldn’t wait to get to her seat for the greatest show on earth. While on line for the tickets she saw boycotters petitioning at the circus fence. She remembered a feeling in the pit of her stomach that told her something isn’t quite right. “I remember thinking — how can these people be so serious and upset? We’re at the circus for goodness sakes!” Posing that very question to her mother she received but a 4 letter answer — Don’t worry. It’s nothing, her mother said.
When I finally learned the truth in my later years I recall being angry. Really, really angry. I was, first, angry with the human beings that can do this to animals. I was angry with my mother for not telling me the truth. I was angry with all those people who sat alongside me at the shows, cheering and shoving popcorn into their spoiled mouths while starving, beaten animals preformed their best tricks for our pleasure. I’ve loved animals ever since I can remember and I would have never went had I known the truth.”
Before I go ahead, be warned — this was really hard to write and is going to be a tough read. But, read you must (and please share)!
Why I won’t take my kids to the circus.
247 Years of Animal Abuse at the Circus
Circus animals have the right to be protected and treated humanely under the Animal Welfare Act, and yet…
— Tigers naturally fear fire, but they are still forced to jump through fire hoops in some circuses and had been burned while doing so.
— Circuses are repeatedly cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Animal Welfare Act for trailers that have splintering wood and sharp, protruding metal pieces near animals’ cages.
— Trainers use whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, bull-hooks and other painful tools of the trade to force animals to perform.
— In more than 35 dangerous incidents since 2000, elephants have bolted from circuses, run amok through streets, crashed into buildings, attacked members of the public, and killed and injured handlers.
— Every major circus that uses animals has been cited for violating the minimal standards of care set by the United States Animal Welfare (AWA). This includes Barnum & Bailey and Ringling Brothers.
— 11 months a year they travel over long distances in box cars with no climate control; sleeping, eating, and defecating in the same cage.
— Virtually 96% of a circus animal’s life is spent in chains or cages. Animals naturally walk the earth. Elephants about 50 miles a day in the wild. Multiply that by the 60-70 years they live 1,246,000 miles of freedom denied for our entertainment.
— Since 1990, there have been more than 123 documented attacks on humans by captive large cats in the United States, 13 of which resulted in fatal injuries.
— During the off-season, animals used in circuses may be housed in small traveling crates. Such confinement has harmful psychological effects on them. These effects are often indicated by unnatural behavior such as repeated swaying, and pacing.
— Lack of exercise and long hours standing on hard surfaces are major contributors to foot infections and arthritis, the leading causes of death among captive elephants.
— Animals enslaved in the circus are subjected to brutal “training” techniques.
— Trainers drug some animals to make them “manageable” and surgically remove the teeth and claws of others.
— At least 24 elephants have died at the hands of Barnum & Bailey and Ringling Brothers since 1992.
— An average performance time of an animal is an average of 8 minutes. The rest of the day they are chained to one place, locked in one cage, beaten, left in the severe heat and cold without the basic needs of food and water to wait for their next show.
— When captive elephants and felines fight back, attacks on humans in the U.S. have resulted in hundreds of injuries, many resulting in death.
— Many animals live in prides, packs, or, in the case of elephants, a parade in the wild. In a circus mothers are separated from their babies to never be seen again or, worse yet, witness the horrors the human subject them to on a daily, even hourly basis.
These Animals are Dying to Entertain Us — Literally
Video sources for further education and possibly a wake up of a voice for these defenseless animals.
Warning this gets graphic.
Side thought: isn’t it sad when a talking Pug gets 2 million views within a week but the videos below — ones with a real message, with real suffering, needing real attention and help — they get barely any attention. I’d like to try’n help that. I’d like to raise awareness as tough a subject as this is. Please Bees, please help spread the word. I beg of you!
CIRCUS CRUELTY – Animal Performer Life Behind the Red Curtain- ANIMAL DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL ADI
Baby Elephant TAKEN and KILLED by Ringling Bros. Circus
Cruelty to Circus Elephants
What You Should Know About The Ringling Brothers Circus, it’s Founder & Staff
P. T. Barnum, founder of The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus stated that he founded the circus on the Greater Fool Theory and his philosophy is, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” That’s his audience that he is talking about. The people who pay him the money. People like you and me. Heartwarming, no?
Definition of the Greater Fool Theory: The greater fool theory states that the price of an object is determined not by its intrinsic value, but rather by irrational beliefs and expectations of market participants. A price can be justified by a rational buyer under the belief that another party is willing to pay an even higher price. Or one may rationally have the expectation that the item can be resold to a “greater fool” later.
The current owner Kenneth Feld has made over a billion dollars on the backs of suffering of animals.
Mr. Feld has no intentions on putting that money to offer a better life for the animals whose lives he and his brand destroys every day. His billions have already been divided between his daughters. His defense in continuing with this monstrous business?
Tim Frisco‘s —an animal care director in the Carson & Barnes Circus — talks about his training technique when an animal moves out of line how to handle him with a bullhooks, “When the [animal] starts squirming too f—ing much, two f—ing hands… BOOM, under his chin.” A note to his employees, “Make them f—ing scream… If you’re afraid to hurt them, don’t come into the barn.” A tip on how you know you’re training the elephant right, “Sink that hook into him. When you hear that screaming then, you know you got their attention.” And the importance of following direction,“When I say rip his f—ing head off, or his f—ing foot off… it’s very important that you do it.” This is an animal director?????
Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus are NOT a part of the BBB
What You Should Remember About Circus Animals
They were born free in the wild, in to the arms of nature and should remain that way as she intended.
They are not meant for human entertainment. Not for riding bikes, holding paws, jumping through hoops, standing on their hind legs, riding other animals they normally wouldn’t cross in the wild.
They never get time off. They are either performing for you under dire stress, being trained under sadistic circumstances, or are cramped into a tiny cell, often for 10 hours or more in which they defecate, sleep, and eat (when fed).
They have been beaten hundreds of times on average to lift their foot up just right and fast enough. So when you see that lovely trick of elephants raising their feet in a row, think of how it all got there.
They get little to no medical help when they get injured at the hands of their handlers.
They are alone and helpless.
They live a life of constant stress, pain, and fear.
They are living and worthy beings with souls, hearts, feelings, minds.
They don’t belong to us!
They have been enslaved by humans for human entertainment.
They stand no chance without you and me. Say no to the circus because they can’t.
While We’re on the Topic of Animal Cruelty for Human Entertainment…
Here are a Few of the Other Places We Won’t Be Visiting with My Kids or Otherwise
— The Zoo
— SeaWorld — Wanna know how Tilly the whale came to live Sea World? Hint – It wasn’t by invitation.
Whales are one of the most social animals on the planet. In the wild, they live in close family pods– the adult offspring stay with their mothers forever. They can travel up to 100 miles a day, so can you imagine what it must be like for them to live in a tiny, concrete pool at SeaWorld day in and day out? Just like humans, whales have a limbic system in their brain that’s responsible for emotions, however in whales the limbic system is extended, so scientists believe that they possess emotions that we can’t even begin to understand. The complexity of their emotions goes way beyond what humans even feel. The suffering they must experience in captivity is inconceivable.
When Tilly was two years old he was captured in the wild– just swimming with his mother in the ocean one minute, and the next he was literally being chased down by boats and pulled away from his mother’s side by a net. In the movie, an orca hunter expresses his deep regret over capturing numerous whales years ago.
Baby Tilikum– scared, confused, terrified– was hoisted onto the boat with other babies and shipped to a shoddy marine amusement park in Canada. His life changed forever from that day forward, and he never saw his mother or anyone else in his family again. And he never will. This was 1983, and Tilikum is still in captivity. It’s been 30 long, miserable years. It reminds me of the recent horrible case where three girls were kidnapped and held hostage for years in that house of horrors in Cleveland. Just like them, Tilikum was also kidnapped.
Everyday when the park closed (from 5pm to 7am the next morning) Tilly was put into a small, underwater steel box where he couldn’t even turn around. It was pitch black. A torture chamber.
Exceptions to Circus Rule
Now, we’re not against all circus acts. They’re are those wonderful and talented people who entertain you because they want to. Because they were born for it! Because they are free to do so. Those are people. These are animal-free circuses.
If you haven’t seen a Cirque De Soleil show, let me tell you something — you’re missing out! Fire, water, gravity play, visually stunning, and truly unforgettable… they have it all (except maybe an elephant)
- Animal free circuses around the world: click here to see them all!
- Rescue and sanctuaries, that house animals not able to go back into the wild due to their mistreatment or lack of familiarity on how to be a ‘wild’ animal, are great places to visit. They are sanctuaries for these otherwise lost animals that don’t belong in their wild home because of us. These sanctuaries dedicate their existence to the well being of the animals it rescues and are typically not-for-profit. No billions of dollars to be made here. I guess that’s where the sparkle went.
Talking to Kids About Animals Used for Entertainment
Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about the hard subjects. They are smarter and more compassionate than you think. Don’t shelter your kids away from the truth. Be tactful. Focus on the positive (there is always a positive). You don’t have to show them pics of abused animals but there is a way to be honest with them and let them be involved (really involved) in the world that we’re living in today. That is the plan of the Bee for my own little ones. I shall keep you all posted when the time comes how it actually unfolded.
Better ways to learn about animals
- Visit your local shelter or rescue
- Volunteer at the above stated
- Check out wild animal camera feeds online. CritterCam and WildCam by National Geographic is a wonderful way to start. Click here for their wild animals right now!
- Go on a Safari Adventure literally or in your backyard and see how many animals you can spot.
- Books, videos and documentaries
- Read news about lawsuits filed against Ringling Bros.:
- Ringling Court Filings, Trial Documents and Exhibits
at Born Free USA
- “Federal court will decide fate of elephants soon”
(September 6, 2009)
- “Circus Arrives in Las Vegas Amid Controversy”
(June 17, 2009)
- “Big Top Could Lose Elephants”
(March 18, 2009)
- Ringling Court Filings, Trial Documents and Exhibits
How You Can Help Abused Circus Animals
- DON’T SHOW UP!
- Sing here to help stop animal abuse by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus and release the animals into retirement they so deserve
- educate yourselves and others
- volunteer at local rescues or shelters
- respect nature or learn how to
Asian Elephants, the elephant species most often used by circuses, are endangered in the wild, due to poaching, hunting, and the destruction of their natural habitat. They are listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits anyone from “killing,” “harming,” or “harassing” them. To learn more click here.
Dubbed the “Cruelest Show on Earth” by many animal advocates, Ringling Brothers has three traveling circuses: the “Red” and “Blue” Units, and the “Gold Unit” or “Hometown Edition.” It also has both a breeding and retirement facility for the elephants it uses in it’s circus. To learn more click here.
The cruel way in which circus elephants are broken, trained, disciplined, and transported are all indicative of a life of misery in the circus. To learn more click here.
As described by several former Ringling Brothers employees, there is a culture of abuse at the circus that includes the constant use of bull hooks and other weapons on the elephants, and routine chaining while the elephants are transported throughout the country to perform. The animals perform between 48-50 weeks each year, with up to 3 performances a day. They are chained in box cars while traveling from town to town, chained all night long, and chained for most of the day. The mistreatment occurs with both adult and baby elephants. To learn more click here.
From the time they are born at Ringling Brothers’ breeding facility, the baby elephants are torn away from their mothers, trained with bull hooks to perform tricks in the circus, and kept on chains. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has concluded that Ringling Brothers’ routine “separation” of baby elephants from their mothers – using ropes around their legs to forcibly remove the nursing babies from their mothers – causes the young elephants “trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm, and unnecessary discomfort.” In recent years, at least four baby elephants have died prematurely while under Ringling Brothers’ care. To learn more click here.
Circuses with animals are still around today because of several myths they perpetuate to convince the public that this is a harmless “all-American” activity. To learn more click here.
While the infamous founder of Ringling Brothers circus, P.T. Barnum, boasted that “there’s a sucker born every minute,” it is up to the public to learn the truth about what goes on behind the Big Top. To learn more click here.
Conclusion — We are Better Than This
The circus exists because of me and you. It exists for it’s audience. It exists because of our insatiable human demand to be entertained.
Living beings should respect and value each other… not imprison and enslave. Pass this important lesson to your kids. Don’t shelter them away from it. Be kind, honest and be prepared to do something about it because a lot of the time kids are more feverish about bringing justice to the world than parents, leaders, politicians. Show them the real world so they can really live in it, fix it, maintain it, and nurture it. They can only do that if they have all the pieces, all the info, all of the truth.
These are the reasons I will never take my kids to the circus.
Your Turn Bees
As an avid animal lover, I had a really hard time writing this article. I shed tears. Got angry. And shed some more tears. But had to be done. It had to be shared. And I hope that you too will see the importance of this.
I know that it’s hard for you to read, but I beg of you, please do. Let’s be human again. Tell me your thoughts in the comments below. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
CIRCUS CRUELTY – Animal Performer Life Behind the Red Curtain- ANIMAL DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL ADI [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/xmQghvQHKF8
Cruelty to Circus Elephants [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxRsHfnY9eo
Cruelty to Circus Elephants [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxRsHfnY9eo
Elephant abuse under the big top at Ringling Brothers circus [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CKxNpnP5pM#t=52
Elephant Training Tragedy – Animal Cruelty [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/D8BFP0WWeLE
Raising Veg Kids – Raising Veg Kids. (2013, July 8). Retrieved from http://www.raisingvegkids.com/blog/why-i-wont-take-my-kids-to-seaworld
Ringling Bros. Owner Not Clowning Around With Business, Cannons To Billionaire Status – Forbes. (2014, January 28). Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanmac/2014/01/28/ringling-bros-owner-not-clowning-around-with-business-cannons-to-billionaire-status/
Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus’ Mistreatment of Asian Elephants. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.wildlifeadvocacy.org/current/circus/
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