Last weekend, the Northwest Animal Rights Network held peaceful demonstrations in Kent, WA, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. This weekend, we’ll be doing the same thing in Everett.
This style of circus reeks of colonialism and is a throwback to Victorian times, when swindlers like Ringling, Barnum, and Bailey first got started. P.T Barnum was a money-grubbing showman who’s known for saying “there’s a sucker born every minute.” He promoted blackface minstrel shows and got away with exploiting animals, women, minorities, little people, people with health issues, and anyone else he could make a buck off.
These days at Ringling, only the animals are allowed to suffer.
Ringling will tell you (as they do on their site) that they provide excellent care for their animals and that the animals are ambassadors for their wild counterparts. However, there’s no denying that Ringling had to pay the largest fine for animal abuse in US history ($270,000) for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
No matter how the animals are treated, here’s one thing I stand by: Wild animals don’t belong in circuses. They’re not here for our amusement. They don’t deserve to be caged and carted around, forced to perform 11 months a year, and beaten into submission (that’s essentially how one “trains” an elephant).
Seeing an elephant balance on her hind legs teaches me nothing about how they behave in the wild. I guarantee that bears don’t want to ride bikes, and tigers never line up to jump through fiery hoops. Circuses are bad for animals, and not safe for spectators.
If the circus comes to your town, find something else to do. I can think of at least 10 ideas:
- Spend the day riding roller coasters
- Ride your bike, go for a hike, or fly a kite
- Two words: Go carts!
- Catch that blockbuster film you’ve been wanting to see
- Visit an animal sanctuary
- Go to the beach
- Attend a sporting event
- See your favorite band in concert (or check out the symphony)
- Spend the day at a flea market or craft fair
- Take a cooking class
- Go kayaking (or swimming–if you fall out)
Or, go to a circus–a circus that doesn’t exploit animals! Cirque du Soleil and other acrobatic, theatrical shows are exciting and showcase very talented humans–who aren’t enslaved, and actually like what they do!
What are you going to do instead of going to a circus with animals?