Ringling’s demise closes a chapter in the campaign to help animals
By CircusesHurtAnimals.com (formerly Daniel Carron)
After a grueling trip in cramped, fetid boxcars, the elephants had been unchained and unloaded near a noisy coal pier and were being marched almost 5 miles through the city to the arena in which Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus would be performing.
Asha kept falling behind, but the trainer didn’t care. Throughout the entire march, he yanked on her ear with a bullhook — a heavy, steel-tipped weapon that circus trainers use to “break” elephants’ spirits — and kept saying, “Asha, keep up! Asha, keep up!” All I wanted to do was tell her that she could stop, that she didn’t have to suffer like that.
When I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about Asha being led into the arena basement to be chained up again. That was her life: the train and the basement. I had to do something else besides protesting.
So I changed my name.
“CircusesHurtAnimals.com” is what tellers see on my checks and cashiers see on my credit card. It’s the name on my driver’s license, and besides spelling out my contempt for circuses that exploit animals, it almost always opens the door to conversations about the beatings and whippings that they inflict on animals to coerce them into performing.
All of us at PETA will continue to speak out against Ringling until May 21, when it finally shuts down following its shows in Uniondale, New York. After that, we’ll keep pressing the case that circuses hurt animals.
Why? Because when Ringling took elephants off the road last year, it found another way to exploit them.
Instead of being transferred to reputable sanctuaries where they could roam and socialize, the elephants were hauled to Ringling’s Florida breeding and training compound, where they spend as long as 23 painful hours a day chained to concrete floors, are threatened with bullhooks, and continue to be used — only now it’s for medical tests.
We’ll keep speaking up, because Asha was sent to a zoo in Oklahoma and because Ringling is still abusing other animals.
When tigers aren’t being paraded around a ring under threat of a whip, they’re kept in cages so small that they can barely take a single step in any direction, so they do everything — eat, drink, sleep, defecate — all in one place.
Inactivity is wrecking their health: Most are overweight and some are obese, which puts them at risk of arthritis, liver and kidney failure, and heart disease.
I’ll never forget the moment when I found out that Ringling was closing. I was cashing out and talking with a bartender about my name when I got a text from a friend that said, “You can change your name back now.” I literally shouted, “Ringling is closing!” It was all I could say. We went to another bar and celebrated with shots.
We’ll probably take champagne to Uniondale, and while I’m excited about it, I don’t have that “Our work here is done” feeling. Ringling has a history of exploiting animals, and there’s no reason to think that it will suddenly stop. We have to get the elephants and tigers and all the other animals into reputable sanctuaries.
But there’s little doubt that other animal-exploiting circuses will fall, because the biggest domino has come down— in fact, UniverSoul and Garden Bros. are already feeling the pressure.
PETA isn’t against all circuses — just the ones that use animals.
Last year, when we were protesting Ringling in Norfolk, Virginia, a family came up and looked at our posters, and the little daughter started crying. Someone gave her a stuffed elephant that we’d brought along, and that made her happy. Kids instinctively love animals, and when she found out what was happening to the animals and told her family that she didn’t want to go to the circus after all, it reminded us that people really are listening.
The bears need our help, too!!😢😢😢😢