Ever since I was a young child growing up in the fifties, I’ve always hated circuses, and the main reason is the treatment of the animals. From a young age I instinctively knew that seeing lions, tigers and other wild animals being caged in small pens and forced to perform undignified circus acts to entertain humans was just wrong. At that time I didn’t even know about bull hooks, chains and beatings, but my heart broke for those beautiful creatures living such miserable lives. I still have a similar reaction to most zoos although I do acknowledge that some are better than others and serve as sanctuaries for many species.
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus have finally announced they are no longer including elephants in their “Greatest Show on Earth”. Is there anyone out there who can possibly not celebrate this wonderful news? If you have any doubts, read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen or Last Chain on Billie by Carol Bradley and you’ll change your mind.
The Feld family who owns Ringling Brothers Circus will be retiring their elephants to the 200-acre Center For Elephant Conservation in central Florida. While the family denies succumbing to pressure from animal rights groups, there is no doubt that public opinion and new laws forbidding elephant acts in various Canadian and American cities has finally brought down the curtain on this sad form of entertainment. Hopefully, the next step will be similar actions in the name of other circus animals. One small step for humanity. One giant leap for elephants.
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