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'Training' baby elephants
Say NO to circuses

My two visits to a circus

   Much to my shame, I have to admit that I once attended a circus show. This was over fifty-five years ago when I was a pre-school small child. My father took me to a well-known circus that was visiting a town a few miles away. What is remarkable is that the one thing that remains firmly in my mind about this visit is that I was totally bored. I did not find anything appearing in the circus ring that day to be interesting, amusing or entertaining. I found it as entertaining as watching paint dry.

   Some thirty years later, I went to another circus, but this time I did not go in, but stood outside and gave leaflets to people going into the circus tent. The leaflets gave details of the cruelty used to train the 'wild animals'. The one fact that struck me was the general ignorance of the people going into the circus. Of the few who tried to justify their action, usually with just a few barely coherent grunts, the general 'defence' offered was that 'I want my child to see the wild animals'.
   With this, their ignorance suddenly became most apparent as they failed to see the (somewhat) obvious fact that the supposedly 'wild animals' were not behaving as wild animals at all. Elephants do not naturally behave as they do in circuses, as lions do not jump through flaming hoops, or bears play the harmonica (etc., etc., etc.). None of the 'wild animals' seen in the circus ring behaved as wild animals or even animals at all. Their behaviour was robotic, i.e, doing as they had been trained or programmed to do: therefore the children were not seeing 'wild animals'. Moreover, if the parent(s) really wanted them to see wild animals, they could take advantage of the many excellent wildlife documentaries that are now easily available.

   So why go to the circus? As stated, the animals seen are not behaving normally or naturally, so to me, the circus phenomenon, when animals are used, is to reassure people that we humans control large, once wild animals and humans are very much 'in charge' of the natural world. Consequently, the 'wild animal' acts are a complete mockery of the animals as they are exhibited to show that humans are able to control them. The circus acts also belittle these magnificient animals by forcing them to behave foolishly or dangerously, which again corroborates a fact that we already know, that humans can and do control wild animals. But the obvious question that arises with this is, simply, what kind of person needs such unnecessary reassurance?
   Unlike fifty years ago, people are now fully aware of the treatment of circus animals as there has been so much publicity in the media and on the internet, so this begs the question of why anyone still visits such places...

As stated on the (US) TAPS website:
Why Would Anyone Want to Attend an Animal Circus?
Animal circuses are not all they’re cracked up to be. Wild animals, many who travel 20-100 miles per day in the wild, are forced to live in cramped cages and are chained for their entire lives. Remember, when the big top buttons up after leaving your city these majestic creatures are forced in the back of trucks in order to travel to the next city. The ones who performed up to expectations are crammed into confined living spaces while the ones who “misbehaved” are beaten until they learn to “perform” correctly. They endure extreme temperatures traveling from city to city, often without any protection from the elements. Many are sick, don’t receive the proper nutrition or veterinary care, and are forced to perform when they are sick just to provide a few minutes of entertainment each day to an uneducated public.
Elephants born in captivity are ripped away from their mothers at birth and chained along with the other baby elephants for months on end to “break their spirit.” The elephant babies who were “lucky” enough to be born in the wild, are often ripped away from their families, while the older elephants in the pack are left to mourn the loss of the child, or sometimes are killed to steal their tusks for the illegal ivory trade. Animal circuses (as you will read throughout our website) are not conservationists. They use this guise to make the public feel less guilty about being witness to their physical and psychological abuse.