Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

Circus animals treated poorly

The Culpepper & Merriweather (C&M) circus is coming to Stevensville. As is the case with most circuses, C&M has run afoul of the Animal Welfare Act and has been recently cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the oversight agency, for “willful neglect and disregard” of animal welfare. Though the inspector had determined that C&W’s license should be revoked, the judge suspended it temporarily.
Circuses—traveling circuses in particular—simply cannot provide for the emotional and physical needs of captive animals. When not performing coerced stunts, circus animals spend their entire lives confined in cramped transport carriers standing in their own waste. At the circus venue, they are caged or, as is often the case with elephants, chained by the leg. The head bobbing, pacing, circling, and swaying they exhibit are mental symptoms of the distress of confinement, crushing boredom, and inability to engage in natural behaviors; one frequently sees this psychotic behavior in zoo animals, also. According to C&M personnel, the circus goes to a new town every day for 32 weeks from March to October. What a sorry existence.
Animals are “liberated” from their extreme confinement only to perform unnatural stunts in the ring. Writes Big Cat Rescue: “… the industry reassures the public it uses positive reinforcement on the animals. Yet, during shows, audiences watch as big-cat trainers crack whips while cats do tricks. Elephants are accompanied by men with bullhooks, sticks with sharp metal hooks on one end. No matter how they’re marketed, whips and hooks are not positive reinforcement. They serve as continual reminders to the animals of what could happen if they don’t comply.”

Surely we aren’t so desperate for an hour’s worth of entertainment that we’re willing to condemn animals to entire lifetimes of mental and physical suffering… or that we’re willing to teach children it’s OK to exploit animals for our fleeting pleasure. For anyone who’d like to learn more, I invite you to visit my website, Hover over “issues” in the menu bar and click on “circus animal exploitation” (it’s the most-accessed page at the website, with visitors from around the world). At Other Nations you’ll find videos (undercover and otherwise), articles, links to circus animal sanctuaries, a complete list of worldwide circus bans, a list of animal-free circuses, and a special section just posted with reports, comments, and documentation pertaining to Culpepper & Merriweather Circus. Know before you go!
Great Britain is the latest country to ban the use of wild animals in circuses; it joins Austria, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Peru, Israel, Singapore, and many more in enacting full or partial bans. This is the enlightened, compassionate response to humanity’s increasing awareness—thanks to scientists—of the emotional lives led by sentient animals.
Said the Parliamentarian who called for Britain’s ban, “This is a victory for animal welfare and common sense – and proves that politicians who have belief, stick to their principles, and persevere despite hostile opposition, can still shape events.”
Those words also apply to anyone who stands up and speaks out against circus animal abuse.
Kathleen Stachowski


2 Responses to Circus animals treated poorly
  1. Irie in Lolo
    June 19, 2013 | 11:48 pm

    Thank you, Kathleen, for another powerful, beautifully expressed and reasoned piece. Compassion for animals begets compassion for all living beings. It’s time for us to follow the lead of other enlightened countries and say no to animal suffering, especially for the sake of human entertainment.

    • Lisa Steinhoff
      July 10, 2014 | 6:05 pm

      Well said reply. Agreed.

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