Originally Published: August 27, 2007 9:24 p.m.
When I was a child I wanted to join a circus and become a trapeze artist.
The exotic animals were no small part of the fantasy. Animals have brought me much joy. It also saddens me that so much cruelty befalls circus animals.
Circus animal acts are a throwback to when people didn't know better. People didn't realize that elephants, for instance, are highly intelligent animals that suffer terribly in captivity. The public didn't realize that getting elephants, as well as lions, tigers and other animals, to perform requires depriving them of nearly everything that makes their lives normal and natural. Circus elephants spend much of their lives in miserable conditions. To control and punish them, keepers strike them repeatedly with bull hooks that tear their sensitive flesh.
I know some want to believe the animals are having fine lives, and perhaps they even are well off.
Those who study elephants widely recognize they have deep emotions and deep family bonds (yes, family values).
Despite all the circuses' expensive publicity to the contrary, former employees turned whistleblowers have testified before the U.S. Department of Agriculture about cruelty to elephants in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Michael Markarian, executive vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, says, "Wild animals in circuses are subjected to inhumane conditions as they travel from town to town. With so many choices in family entertainment, there is no justification for supporting circuses that use elephants, tigers and other wild animals to perform tricks and other unnatural behaviors."
Many circuses these days don't include animal acts. Many communities have outlawed animal acts in their towns.
Do not attend the Ringling Brothers performance at the Tim's Toyota Center.