The types of training methods
used by circus trainers can vary, but the hard truth is that
no wild animal can be made to perform without extreme human
domination and subjugation. Mistreatment is always involved
somewhere along the line, either during the initial training
sessions or while reinforcing the required performance behaviors
after several months on the road when the animal become bored,
tired or sloppy.
Most circus animals have been brutalized
by their trainers at some point and perform either out of
fear, or because their food, water or rest (for all three)
have been withheld. S0me performing animals are fed only after
a satisfactory performance and at no other time. Starve animals
long enough and they soon willing to do practically anything.
While the focus of so-called “necessary
discipline” are different for all animals, elephants
and primates generally suffer the worst fate, being brutally
beaten on a routine basis and deprived of food regularly.
Other animals are hit, poked, prodded with electricity, jerked
with choke collars, have their paws burned, their food withheld
and their bodily orifices invaded.
All this in the name of entertainment. Fear
and pain, that’s the name of the game.
Circuses also fail to provide for the animals
a quality of life that can even begin to meet their most basic
needs. Most circus animals are languish in small cages; are
forced to travel nearly 365 days a year’ must perform
perfectly for each performance, and are punished brutally
if they fail to perform up to expectations. And the smaller
the circus, the more despicable the conditions and unreliable
the care give to the animals.
Furthermore, circus animals are not given
the slightest opportunity to exhibit a natural range of behaviors.
In fact, instead of providing the animals with something to
do, circuses do the most unnatural things possible by forcing
wild animals to be completely restrained within a totally
So what are we teaching our children when
we take them to the circus? On the one hand we attempt to
teach them the need to nurture and protect endangered animals
and to respect nature and the environment. On the other hand,
when we take children to the circus, we are showing them that
it is socially acceptable to force wild and endangered animals
to bend to our will.
We are in effect teaching them that some
animals can made to do some incredibly unnatural things simply
because we want them to. And we’re teaching the next
generation that this type of tyrannical slave-master relationship
with the natural world is acceptable.
This is not the way to instill respect for
life, nature or our planet within future generations. Instead
of appreciating the wonder and uniqueness of a bear, our children
learn to laugh and ridicule the animal for being an imperfect
human, stumbling as he struggles to walk upright on his hind
legs or clutch wildly at the handle bars of the speeding motorcycle.
Children no longer appreciate wild animals for what they are,
but rather only for the tricks they can perform.
By removing wild animals from their wild
surroundings and forcing them to do tricks on command, we
are demeaning not only the animals, but ourselves as well.
We cannot condemn only those who attend the
circus. We all share in the shame for allowing such a barbaric
and outdate form of “entertainment” to continue
to exist in this day and age.
What you can do to help: