The Reality Of Circus Life For Animals

Animal act circuses may appear to be fun-filled family events, but in reality they are no fun for the animals involved —whose spirits are broken. The public may not witness animal training and abuse; although there is a plethora of photographic and video documentation confirming the horrors of circus life for these animals. Inspection reports of animal act circuses from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveal continuous citations for violations of standards set forth in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Major corporations such as General Mills, Liz Claiborne, MasterCard, VISA, and Sears Roebuck and Co. all ended their sponsorships of circuses after learning of the abuse inherent in animal circuses.       

Circus animals can spend up to 11 months per year traveling in cramped cages and/or chained for up to 21 hours a day or days, enduring extreme weather conditions, eating and sleeping in their own excrement, and forced to perform unnatural and demeaning tricks which may also be painful. If it wasn’t for pain inflicted or fear of pain, they would not perform such unnatural acts.                                                                                                                        

Elephant life within a circus is especially miserable. It is detrimental to their physical and mental health. All that is natural to them is taken away. In the wild, elephants stay with their family unit their whole life. Males leave in their teens but are rarely alone. Yet, in the circus, babies are taken away at 2 years of age or younger and all the elephants are shuffled around. In the wild, they roam seven to dozens of miles a day. They are active for 20 out of 24 hours, foraging, exploring, socializing and raising their young. They naturally browse, serving the needs for sustenance as well as physical and mental health.        

Elephants have a natural lifespan of 60-70 years. Yet most captive elephants are euthanized at around 40 years of age. This is due to the long suffering, painful conditions of foot rot, arthritis and osteomyelitis from lack of movement; stemming from lack of space, standing too long on hard surfaces and in their own excrement. Tuberculosis (TB) is known to thrive in their cramped, conditions. In several instances, elephants known to have TB have been used to give rides to the public. The detrimental effects of confinement produce boredom and severe stress developing into neurosis within elephants so they are observed displaying repetitive behaviors such as stepping, head bobbing, and swaying due to lack of: space, mental enrichment and socialization. These are all captivity induced diseases, not found in the wild.                                                    

That their living conditions have been so utterly devoid of respect, familial/social relationships, love, kindness, care, freedom; free from mental and physical pain, is a disgrace of humans. We need to acknowledge the facts about their natural lives in the wild versus the facts about their lives in captivity.                

 Having animals perform in circuses is so barbaric and cruel; I’m surprised it is even legal. These are just some of the realities these animals are forced to endure in circuses. The abuses they endure are horrific, cruel, and very sad.                                                                                                          

What is family fun at an event that is inherently cruel? Let’s teach children compassion and respect for animals instead of hurting them and forcing them to perform demeaning and unnatural acts for “entertainment.” So, when the circus comes to town, please don’t give your money to support this cruelty. Circuses are no fun for the animals.

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Volume 4, Issue 11, Posted 10:18 PM, 10.02.2012