Nolan is turning two in a few weeks and I’m planning a circus theme birthday party complete with hot dogs, popcorn, and cotton candy. We’re going to attempt to make balloon animals, paint each other’s faces, and play a few carnival games. I've been looking online quite a bit for decoration inspiration and found some pretty cool pictures.

(Yes, I had to throw Britney in there)

As fun as I think this theme is, I would never, ever go to a traditional circus. While I think the human performers have amazing talent, I won’t go because of the cruelty to animals. Humans can master a circus act: trapeze, juggling, clowning around, tightrope walking and acrobatics. Animals do not naturally ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls, or jump through rings of fire. To force these animals to do so trainers have to use whips, collars, muzzles, electric prods, bull hooks, and other painful tools. Animals aren't performing because they want to, they perform because they are afraid not to. Here are a few pictures that I found that aren't too disturbing.

You can search circus animal cruelty to find out much more information, photos and videos. Or check out Olivia Munn’s PETA campaign to boycott the circus. Luckily, animal circuses (like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey) have seen a decline in attendance steadily for years. That’s why you see those tempting 2-for-1 coupons at the grocery store. But they are still trying to paint a picture of happy animals performing tricks. Here are a few statements issued by Ringling backed up by the reality of the situation.

Ringling: Our training methods are based touch, words of praise and food rewards.
Reality: Video footage shows that elephants were aggressively hooked, lame elephants were forced to perform and travel, and a trainer inflicted a bloody bullhook wound behind an elephant’s ear flap. Former Ringling employees describe violent beatings as well as the routine abuse of elephants, horses, camels, and zebras.

Ringling: Our staff is dedicated to meeting our animals’ physical and behavioral needs.
Reality: Ringling’s USDA inspection reports are riddled with serious citations of problems that directly impact animal welfare. In 2006 alone, the circus was cited three times for failure to provide adequate veterinary care to a disabled elephant, to an elephant with a large swelling on her rear leg, and to a camel with bloody wounds. Ringling was also cited for causing trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm, and discomfort to two young elephants who sustained cuts and abrasions when they ran amok in an arena in Puerto Rico; improper handling of dangerous animals; and an enclosure in disrepair.

Ringling: All circuses are subject to stringent animal welfare regulations.
Reality: No agency monitors training sessions, in which animals may be beaten behind the scenes. Most state and local agencies defer to the already overburdened USDA for matters concerning exotic animals in circuses. The federal Animal Welfare Act has no regulations that specifically pertain to elephants.

Ringling: The animal routines in our circus showcase our animals’ natural behaviors.
Reality: In nature, elephants don’t stand on their heads, walk trunk-to-tail, skip, crawl, or twirl, and adult female elephants do not mount one another. Tigers don’t hop on their hind legs and roll over in unison. In order to force wild animals to perform difficult and confusing circus tricks, trainers use whips, sticks, and bull hooks.

Ringling: Ringling Bros. elephants are healthy, thriving, vigorous, and content.
Reality: The USDA inspection reports note that some of the circus’s elephants suffer from lameness, foot abscesses, and arthritis. At least 8 of the 24 elephant deaths at Ringling since 1992 were attributable to either osteoarthritis or a chronic foot problem—a common problem in captive elephants caused by lack of space and forced inactivity.

Sweden, Austria, Costa Rica, India, Finland, and Singapore have all banned or restricted the use of animals in entertainment. Why hasn’t the United States? And why are we surprised when we see animals attacking on the news? They aren’t out to hurt anyone, they just snap under the pressure of captivity and constant abuse. Here is a list of tons of animal-free circuses you can go to. All of the Cirque du Soleil shows are animal free and a lot of fun for the whole family. I've seen two different shows and loved them both. Anyway, I'm not trying to get all political for my son's birthday party. It's just a good kid's theme because of the colors, animals, decorations, and super easy menu! 

1 comment:

Lacey said...

My family also refuses to take part of any circus activities when they come to town. It makes me so sad to see animals treated the way they are :(