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Circuses Using Live Animals Still Exist?…

Thursday, February 26, 2009
Posted in: ban circuses

I thought that circuses that used live animals for entertainment, had been banned years ago.

Apparently not.

2007 Promo

The Great British Circus are coming to town, and they have live elephants, camels, and tigers that perform tricks for people.

These animals are caged for days, and then transported from pillar to post, under cramped conditions.

The communications director for the organisation was on the radio today, and he tried to convince dissenting listeners, that TGBC were doing the animals a favour by keeping them in captivity. He also suggested that the circus was performing some sort of public service for people who couldn’t afford to travel to far off countries to see the animals in their natural habitat.

What an absolute crock of shite.

Mind you, he was a better representative of the organisation than the circus director, Martin Lacey. Check out his rant at a BBC reporter:

I’m pretty sure the communications director was hired after Mr Lacey made such a twat of himself.

I’m really surprised that people are still going to see these shows. I’m assuming that most people who go to watch the animals perform just don’t think about the conditions in which they’re kept.

It sure makes me mad thinking about it.

What do you guys think about circuses? Would you go to one?


  • Bhetti B
    February 26
    10:51 am

    I got taken to the circus as a child, and it was one of my best memories. The circus is promoted in children’s media and their shows.

    Yes, I didn’t think of the animals (well, all I remember is a snake I took a photograph with really) because they weren’t in cages when I saw them! However, even though they are a very traditional component of circus acts, it is unnecessary and sometimes dangerous to have them so I wouldn’t mind them being excluded. Clowns, acrobatics, magic tricks… those can definitely substitute!

    It does upset me on one level to think that we should get rid of zoos, but we’ve got videos and documentaries, so there’s no educational reason why we should have zoos, depriving animals of their normal environment, either. I do endorse endangered species protection and breeding programmes, though! Hopefully captitivity is the last option for that sort of thing.


  • Marianne McA
    February 26
    12:52 pm

    Well, I’m past the small-children stage of motherhood, so I’m not contractually obliged to go, and when I did take them, it always seemed to be cold and muddy, and they charged as much as they could for everything – seat, refreshments, tacky souvenirs, photo with snake, ride round the ring on a pony, face-painting, even looking at the animals after the show… Was just madly expensive, and the clowns always made the smallest child – whoever the smallest child was at the time – cry.
    So at the moment I’m happy to give circuses a miss, though the younger children would still go if there was one in town.

    Having said that, I don’t remember there being any very exotic animals involved – it was more dogs and ponies and birds – and, of course, the large and very photogenic snake.


  • The only circus I want to bring my daughter to is Cirque du Soleil.

    The animal circus is alive and well in the US. They’re still traveling around and playing to big crowds. I’m not a black and white person and I do believe that the animals in big circuses like Barnum & Bailey are probably treated pretty well, since they depend on them for their livelihood. However, I’m sure if animals had their choice, performing would not be their choice. Maybe I’m wrong. Therefore, I’m neither advocate nor protester. I’ve been, but not recently, mostly because I’m unsure about how I feel about them.

    As for zoos, however, I’m all for them if they are run well, as many are. They are key to conservation, education and awareness. Many of the animals in zoos nowadays simply could not exist without them. I happen to be very close to several highly ranked zoos and have visited zoos and aquariums all over the US. I’ve never met people who cared more about animals in the wild than those who run these institutions. My daughter has a deep love for wild animals thanks to her visits to these places, particularly the “free roaming” zoos where the animals have a ton of space, are free from predators (including MAN) and live longer than their normal life expectancies.

    I have to tell you that I was SHOCKED when I went to the San Diego Zoo two years ago. I had no idea the animals were pretty much still in cages. Nice cages, but cages nonetheless. I thought all the prominent zoos had switched to more of a “natural habitat.” Some of the enclosures mimicked a natural habitat, but were much more cramped than I expected for such a world-famous zoo. However, they were accredited, so I figured it was my perception that was off. I did see that they were doing a lot of reconstruction and with a zoo that size, it might take a lot of time to get it all done.

    BTW, if you ever want to workout, go to the San Diego Zoo. I never walked so far and so long up hills and valleys in one day in my life. Except, maybe, in San Francisco. And I never got a sense of where I was. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t so impressed…I spent half the day lost!


  • M E 2
    February 26
    2:59 pm

    Uh, a circus without animals is a variety show. Sorry, never heard of a circus without animals. (Cirque du Soleil is not MY idea of a circus)


  • Jenns
    February 26
    3:51 pm

    Actually, Julie, a lot of investigative footage has been
    taken from behind the scenes of Barnum and Bailey (and this is recent stuff), and it’s pretty horrific. Poor conditions and abuse still prevail. There are unexplained
    animal deaths, most notably amongst the elephants.
    I totally agree with you about the San Diego Zoo. It’s been several years since I’ve been there, but even at that time it had a reputation as being world-class; maybe I expected too much as a result of that reputation,
    but it was so disturbing to see the virtually tiny spaces
    allotted to the animals.


  • I would never take my child to the circus for this very reason. Plus, I really don’t care for clowns, I think they’re spooky.


  • I think animals in circuses can be abused, or not–just like any other use we make of animals. The days of exhibiting large exotics may be drawing to a close but dog and pony type acts involve some fo the happiest animals I have seen.


  • Jenns, I’ve heard of the reports, but can’t bear to watch, so I just avoid the circus. My daughter isn’t that interested in performing animals as much as she loves seeing them interact with each other. We could stare at the sea otters at the Boston aquarium for hours…oh wait, we did. 🙂


  • Jenns
    February 26
    5:29 pm

    @ Julie: Gotta love those sea otters. 🙂


  • I hate to admit it, but I never really considered the conditions the animals live in within the circus. Puts the whole thing in a new context. I’ve read a lot of info out there about terrible conditions in some zoos, so thanks for the heads up on this.

    I do love the Cirque du Soleil.


  • No, I would not go, nor would I take children. I even remember disliking it as a kid. Loved the acrobatics, but the clowns just seemed like sad people trying to be funny.
    And I learned about the conditions the animals endure from a friend who worked the circuit many years ago. It makes me ill.


  • Took my neice and nephews to Ringling Bros a handful of years ago, got to feed the elephants in their pens on the grounds of arena. It was either Phillips Arena or Gwinnett Arena, can’t remember.


  • My father took us all to the circus when I was something like three. Hated the clowns and loved the acrobats–don’t remember the animals.

    However… I support zoos if they provide proper care–and that means really, space for the animals to roam and live as close to their own habitat as possible, not cages.

    I don’t really know how many (most?) circus treat their animals, but when I was living in Venezuela I visited a small zoo, near the Andes, that left me with nightmares. The lion, tigers, bears–all the big animals I could see–where in cages smaller than my current master bedroom. Hand to God, smaller than my bedroom–and I am not confined to it 24/7 while people leer at me, children screech, and asshats throw rubbish inside it.


  • Azteclady, a zoo in our city was the same way when I was a kid. Nightmarish. I hated it. Now, though, it is one of the premiere small zoos in the nation. They went through a massive overhaul. The cages are pretty much gone and it’s all natural habitats now with lots of room. So there is room for improvement.


  • I’m not a fan of the whole idea behind making wild animals do amusing tricks for public entertainment. Wildlife should be treated with respect and caution, IMO.

    I have to defend my San Diego Zoo! The place is beautiful, seriously, like a giant garden of rare plants. Lovely to walk around in. I’m not sure if the smaller cages are designed with the animal’s comfort in mind, but I agree that I prefer to see them in larger habitats. And I quite enjoy the hike/workout!

    The San Diego Wild Animal Park is a better bet for roomy habitats. Acres of space in some cases. We have year round passes for this one, our preferred park.

    Sea World, for me, is the worst. They have roller coaster rides and sell mass junk. I have a hard time believing that their goal is education and conservation.


  • Karmyn
    February 28
    8:16 am

    My late ex worked at Ringling Bros taking care of the elephants. He told me that conditions were less than ideal and he had proof of abuse, but never went into any details. He did imply that he had reported some of the abuse and would not hesitate to report further abuse. I don’t know if anything ever happened with that. That was back in 2000 and I don’t know if he had worked with the circus any time between then and when he died a few years ago.


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