LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Put an end to wild animals in circuses

Over the last few years, nine countries have banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Recently, the latest country to put a wild-animal ban in place is Iran. Iran’s Department of Environment has said they will no longer issue permits for circuses which feature wild animals.

Several cities and municipalities in the United States have put bans in place, as well. Some have banned the use of bull hooks (a long metal rod with a hook at the end that is used to beat elephants during training). San Francisco has instituted the most strict ban by saying any animal performances are banned, not just circuses.

Why are more and more of these bans happening? Well, people are starting to learn more and more about the abuses that happen to these animals for entertainment. Thanks to things like undercover videos, the Internet and other social media, the harsh reality of animal cruelty in circuses is being brought to light.

None of the actions these animals do while performing is natural. They do it out of fear. Circus training involves beatings with sticks, bull hooks, [and] being hit with whips, chains and electric prods. Elephants have ropes tied around their limbs and are forced into unnatural and painful positions.

Elephants don’t stand on their heads in the wild, nor do they form conga lines. Trainers have been heard on camera encouraging other trainers to make the animals cry, and bleed. A simple Google search of “circus animal abuse” or something along those lines will turn up plenty of results.

It’s not only the cruel training, though. These animals spend [the] majority of their lives shuffled around in trucks. When elephants aren’t performing, they are chained in place. Big cats and bears are crammed into tiny cages. Other animals like zebras, camels, etc., are confined in tiny pens. They spend their lives alone and isolated. In their natural habitat, these animals may walk and travel miles upon miles a day.

Every single traveling circus today has a laundry list of USDA violations regarding the care of their animals. In fact, Cole Brothers circus, which comes to New Castle County every year, has so many USDA violations, they can no longer get their own permit to own animals. They actually lease animals from other circuses.

Due to the growing concern of animal welfare and increasing bans and restrictions, groups like Ringling have decided to take their elephants off the road. One of the major Shriner circuses is removing animals completely. More and more animal-free circuses are popping up, as well.

Just last year, Dover Mall hosted Cirque Italia, which was a wild-animal-free water circus.

The public can help put an end to the suffering of these animals by not going to circuses that feature wild animals. Support the circuses that feature human performers. They have a choice and want to be there to perform; the animals do not. Also, encourage your state and local representatives to look into putting some form of ban or restrictions in place to protect these animals.

Family entertainment doesn’t have to come at the expense of abused animals.

Charles Wolfe
Organizer for VegDover

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