Asians for Humans, Animals & Nature

Circus Animals

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 barren environment.

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:

  • Stop supporting all circuses that contain animals acts of any kind.

  • Boycott all such circuses and all institutions which sponsor them. Find out who is responsible for making such arrangements and send them a copy of this article. Convince them to find a humane and non-exploitive alternative fund-raising event.

  • Send a copy of this article to all of your legislators, including your local mayor and city council, all of your city, county and state legislators, as well as to your federal representatives. Circuses must be banned, and any piece of legislation what will do that should be pursued. The circus community has strong and powerful lobby, but public opinion will always outweigh special interests. Be persistent.

  • On behalf of animals everywhere, educate your friends and education your local media. When the circus comes to town, boycott it and all of the sponsors.

  • Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, sending copies to all legislators.

The exploitation of wild animals in circuses is a reflection of what our society considers to be humane and ethical treatment of animals. To be outraged by such practices isn’t just about cruelty to animals.

It is about the kind of people we want to be, and the kind of people we want our children to be: people who will no longer tolerate or consider acceptable the purposeless exploitation of animals for amusement.