Disclaimer: Letters to the Editor express the opinion of the writer and are not necessarily the opinion of WBIG ownership, management or staff.
In a few short weeks both the Shriners and Ringling Bros. will be bringing circuses to our area. If anyone cares for animals, beyond cats and dogs, please do not patronize these events. The unnatural tricks that animals are forced to perform night after night are frightening and even painful. Standard circus industry practice is to use bull hooks and other objects to poke, prod, strike, shock, and hit animals in order to “train” them, although this may not be what’s seen in the ring or in carefully-controlled public tours.
Animals in circuses spend about 11 months a year traveling. For thousands of hours, over long distances, they may be chained while not performing, transported in vehicles that lack climate control, and forced to stand in their own waste.
In the wild, elephants live in large sociable herds and walk up to 25 miles every day. Most other wild animals found in circus settings, including lions and tigers, are constantly on the move in their native habitats. They are kept in cramped cages where they can barely turn around and are whipped and made to jump through fire of which tigers are fearful.
Escaped circus animals pose serious threats to public safety. In addition to causing major property damage, they can place local residents at risk from potential injury. These animals are under tremendous amounts of stress. It is little wonder that some animals rebel in rampages that injure and kill people. A few weeks ago in St. Louis three elephants escaped their captivity from a Shriners circus. Fortunately they only damaged automobiles this time. A few years ago at the local Shriners circus an elephant turned on its trainer and killed him. How much more evidence is needed to convince the Shriners to become pioneers in the field of presenting an animal-free exhibition?
Despite circuses’ high-minded claims, they are entertainment, not education. Watching wild animals perform unnatural tricks does not teach our children respect or appreciation for animals, nor does it help animals in the wild. Circuses teach children that it’s acceptable to exploit and mistreat animals for amusement. Further, no research has shown that attending circuses increases public concern about the population status of a species or what steps are being taken to ensure its survival in the wild.
These traveling menageries will stop coming to our towns when you stop giving them your dollars. Please choose not to attend these events, not only because you love animals, but because it is morally and ethically correct.
Patricia Marks, Wilkes-Barre