From Animal Issues, Volume 40 Number 2, Summer 2009
After nearly a decade of waiting, through often tortuous legal maneuvering, the elephants finally got their day in court. After years of circus industry denials about the mistreatment of animals behind the big top, the truth has finally been exposed for the world to see.
Another circus season has come to a close, but this does not mean that the elephants and other animals get a break. The time they have off from the road will be spent learning new tricks for the 2007 season. For the elephants, this means they will be forced to learn the new routine through force and intimidation at the hand of a bullhook.
In the course of our everyday lives, we humans encounter other animals in a wide variety of settings and situations. We may view farmed animals in transport trucks on the highways, companion animals in “pet” shops, and captive exotic or wild animals used for entertainment or kept as “pets” in the residences of friends or neighbors. If we are fortunate, we may encounter wild animals when hiking or exploring at wildlife refuges or nature preserves.
It is both convenient and comforting to assume that specially-written laws protect the animals in each of these situations from harm. Unfortunately, however, such an assumption is misguided.
As a friend of animals, you probably know a great deal about the cruelty experienced by animals in the circus. But do you know about API’s newest campaign to banish big-top cruelty — and how you can be a part of the coast-to-coast movement to end animal circuses? Read on!
Across the country, there’s no shortage of worthy organizations working for good causes, striving to make life better for humans and other animals.
Not long ago, an animal advocate contacted API for advice. Like many people, the caller was deeply troubled by the mistreatment of animals in circuses, and wanted to take action. She wasn’t exactly sure what she could do, but was considering trying to get her home state to pass a law restricting the use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows.
The circus is coming to town! This familiar phrase conjures vivid images of amazing acrobats, capering clowns ... and exotic animals. Unlike the human performers who choose to work in circuses, however, exotic animals are forced to take part in the show. They are involuntary actors in a degrading spectacle, forced into an unnatural life.
Thousands of captive wild animals — elephants, lions, tigers, ocelots, servals, wolves, bears, alligators, venomous snakes, monkeys and other nonhuman primates, and more — are privately held, displayed at roadside zoos and menageries, and used in traveling circuses all across the country.
The sale, possession, and use of captive wild animals is regulated by a patchwork of federal, state, and local laws that generally vary by community and by animal. What results is very little protection under the law. These animals need our help! We must pursue legislation on all levels to ensure stronger protections.