… attend their open house. They are here! BOYCOTT Ringling! No validation from city leaders – cheap FREE publicity for Ringling!
We know it is an election year but, please, city councilors let Ringling know wild animals have no business being in a circus or any traveling show! In Worcester or anywhere in America! – R. Tirella
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming to our town, yet again! What a shame!
By Deb Young
Now and until early next year, trucks or train box cars filled with chained Barnum & Bailey Circus animal “performers” are rolling into cities across the country.
Should parents take their children to the circus?
While going to the circus may be a favorite pastime for many adults, animal abuse allegations have led many parents to squirm at the thought of taking their children.
Although some children dream of running away to join the circus, it is a safe bet that most animals forced to perform in circuses dream of running away from the circus.
In contrast to the glitter associated with circuses, performing animals’ lives are pretty miserable.
When the elephants, monkeys, big cats, and other circus animals aren’t imprisoned in trucks and trains for upwards of 26 hours at a time, these members of the animal kingdom are doing the tricks taught by torture. “Torture’ isn’t hyperbole – it’s the truest word for the electric shocks, beatings, and lifetimes of pervasive neglect exhaustively documented by reports,investigations, photos, videos and personal accounts.
Bears, elephants, tigers, and other animals do not voluntarily ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls, or jump through rings of fire. They don’t perform these and other difficult tricks because they want to; they perform them because they’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t.
For animals in circuses, there is no such thing as “positive reinforcement”—only varying degrees of punishment and deprivation. To force them to perform these meaningless and physically uncomfortable tricks, trainers use whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, bullhooks, and other painful tools of the trade.
In the Ringling Bros. circus, elephants are beaten, hit, poked, prodded, and jabbed with sharp hooks, sometimes until bloody. Ringling breaks the spirit of elephants when they’re vulnerable babies who should still be with their mothers. Unsuspecting parents planning a family trip to the circus don’t know about the violent training sessions with ropes, bullhooks, and electric shock prods that elephants endure. Heartbreaking photos reveal how Ringling Bros. circus trainers cruelly force baby elephants to learn tricks, and it’s not through a reward system, as they claim.
Former Ringling Bros. employees have reported that elephants are routinely abused and violently beaten with bullhooks. Archele Hundley, who was an animal trainer with Ringling Bros., says that she worked with the company for three months and quit after she allegedly saw a handler ram a bullhook into an elephant’s ear for refusing to lie down. Ringling Bros. “believes that if they can keep these animals afraid, they can keep them submissive,” Hundley said. “This is how they train their employees to handle these animals.”
Circuses easily get away with routine abuse because no government agency monitors training sessions. Undercover video footage of animal training sessions has shown that elephants are beaten with bullhooks and shocked with electric prods, big cats are dragged by heavy chains around their necks and hit with sticks, bears are whacked and prodded with long poles, and chimpanzees are kicked and hit with riding crops.Trainers drug some animals to make them “manageable” and surgically remove the teeth and claws of others.
Constant travel means that animals are confined to boxcars, trailers, or trucks for days at a time in extremely hot and cold weather, often without access to basic necessities such as food, water, and veterinary care. Elephants, big cats, bears, and primates are confined to cramped and filthy cages in which they eat, drink, sleep, defecate, and urinate—all in the same place.
Circuses are cruel. Those animals are on the road constantly, living in tiny cages, and whipped into submission. It sends a terrible message to our children. Elephants and tigers are in peril worldwide and we should be teaching our children to respect these animals, rather than sending them a message that it is OK to “train” these animals to do silly tricks. And animal-free circuses are so much entertaining and higher-minded anyway!
Ringling Bros boasts that its three units travel more than 25,000 miles as the circus tours the country for 11 months each year. Ringling’s own documents reveal that on average, elephants are chained for more than 26 hours straight and are sometimes continually chained for as many as 60 to 100 hours. Tigers and lions usually live and travel in cages that provide barely enough room for the animals to turn around, often with two big cats crammed into a single cage. In July 2004, Clyde, a young lion traveling with Ringling, died in a poorly ventilated boxcar while the circus was crossing the Mojave Desert, where temperatures reached at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Clyde likely died a miserable death from heatstroke and dehydration. Previously, two tigers with Ringling injured themselves while attempting to escape from their cages in an overheated boxcar.
Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild , but when forced to perform for Ringling, they live to be on average , only 39 years old.
Approximately 18 Elephants are suffering on the road with Ringling right now.
21 months old is the average age a baby elephant is taken away from his/her mother and begin cruel training.
Ringlings death toll from 1993 to 2012 was 30 elephants.
Elephants often suffer from large abbesses, tuberculosis,depression and aggression after being denied the opportunity to follow their natural instincts.
Ringling has paid the USDA 270,000 for animal welfare violations, the largest fine ever paid by an animal exhibitor.
During the off-season, animals used in circuses may be housed in traveling crates or barn stalls— some are even kept in trucks. Such interminable confinement has harmful physical and psychological effects on animals. These effects are often indicated by unnatural forms of behavior such as repeated head-bobbing, swaying, and pacing.
These intelligent captive animals sometimes snap under the pressure of constant abuse. Others make their feelings abundantly clear when they get a chance. Flora, an elephant who had been forced to perform in a circus and was later moved to the Miami Zoo, attacked and severely injured a zookeeper in front of visitors. As Florida police officer Blayne Doyle—who shot 47 rounds into Janet, an elephant who ran amok with three children on her back at the Great American Circus in Palm Bay—noted, “I think these elephants are trying to tell us that zoos and circuses are not what God created them for … but we have not been listening.”
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.
In speaking before members of Congress about the dangers of elephant rampages, Doyle lamented, “I have discovered, much to my alarm, that once an elephant goes out of control, nothing can be done. It is not a predictable or preventable accident. The only thing that can be done—and even this is a danger to the public—is to get a battery of police officers in with heavy weapons and gun the elephant down.”
Here are 11 quick and straight facts about the circus that many don’t know.
1. Circus animals have the right to be protected and treated humanely under the Animal Welfare Act.
2. Tigers naturally fear fire but they are still forced to jump through fire hoops in some circuses.
3. Less than 100 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors are assigned to monitor the 12,000 circus-related facilities in America.
4. Trainers use whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, bullhooks, and other painful tools of the trade to force animals to perform.
5. 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.
6. Every major circus that uses animals has been cited for violating the minimal standards of care set forth in the United States Animal Welfare Act.
7. On average, circuses travel about 48 weeks per year.
8. Virtually 96 percent of a circus animal’s life is spent in chains or cages.
9. Since 1990, there have been over 123 cases of lion attacks.
10. Repetitive and often destructive behaviors such as obsessive swaying, bobbing, chewing, sucking, weaving, rocking, and licking are common in circus animals, and are manifestations of their extreme stress and boredom.
11. Because of their forced immobility, circus animals may develop arthritis or other joint problems.
What can we do?
When the circus comes to town, organize a demonstration to inform the public that demeaning stunts performed by animals in the ring are the result of behind-the-scenes bullhook beatings and other abusive training methods. Let your local news outlet know about the suffering of animals used in circuses.
Start a campaign to amend the cruelty-to-animals ordinance in our community so that it includes language forbidding the use of bullhooks and other manual, mechanical, and chemical devices intended to cause pain and suffering.
Most importantly, boycott all circuses that use animals.
As more people become aware of the cruelty involved in forcing animals to perform, circuses that use animals are finding fewer places to set up their big tops. The use of animals in entertainment has already been restricted or banned in cities across the U.S. and in countries worldwide.
Circuses that feature only human performers are gaining in popularity and provide dazzling, humane, and truly family-friendly entertainment.
If you don’t find animal cruelty entertaining, or don’t believe seeing elephants doing curtsies teaches kids anything positive, you’re in good – and kind – company.
So why not boycott the big top and celebrate life with animals and fellow animal lovers instead?