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Taking on the Circus

Published 03/15/05
Source: Animal Issues, Volume 36 Number 1, Spring 2005

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!

API in Action

In January, API kicked off our "Animal Circuses: A Lifetime of Misery" campaign in Florida. The time and place were chosen to coincide with the kickoff of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’s latest show.

Although Ringling Bros. claims that its animals receive treatment that meets federal standards, the reality is that, since 1993, the government has cited Ringling Bros. more than one hundred times for deficiencies in animal care. Of course, Ringling Bros. is not the only circus to fail to provide minimal standards of care to its animals — it’s just the largest and best known.

The theme of the new edition of Ringling Bros.’ show is "Escape from the Everyday." Unfortunately, there is no escape for the animals traveling with the show. Forced to perform unnatural tricks, and traveling for thousands of hours over long distances when not performing, animals receive shameful care and treatment in the circus.

As Ringling rolled into Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville, API was there to highlight the real-life, behind-the-scenes experiences of animals in the circus. Through a mobile billboard, protests, media outreach, and powerful advertisements on radio and cable television, API got the message out to thousands about how animals in the circus are doomed to a life full of frightening and painful experiences, and urged people to think twice before buying a ticket to support such an abusive industry.

Spread the Word

API needs advocates across the country to be part of our "Animal Circuses: A Lifetime of Misery" campaign. We’ve got lots of great materials about the treatment of animals in circuses ready for you to use in your community, or to share with family and friends. Materials can be ordered online by going to www.MoreBeautifulWild.com and clicking on the "Circus Ads" link or by calling API at 1-800-348-7387 x204.

"Lifetime of Misery" Poster

Tell the world about how animals suffer in circuses with our 18" x 24" poster! Where can these posters be hung? Just about anywhere! Display them at your office, at schools, libraries, grocery stores, retail shops, hair salons, restaurants, coffee shops, animal hospitals, community bulletin boards, and anywhere the public can see. (Smaller 8.5" x 11" posters can be printed directly from our website.)

"Lifetime of Misery" Flyers

Gather fellow activists and peacefully protest the next circus in your area by handing out these informative flyers. In addition, many circuses ask stores and restaurants to place stacks of their circus coupons on the counter; you can do the same with the flyers. Encourage the store manager to take a compassionate stand for the animals by providing counter space for anti-circus flyers rather than providing space for animal circus coupons. (Flyers can be ordered or printed online.)

"Lifetime of Misery" Demo Kit

Here’s everything you need to demonstrate when the circus comes to your town. API’s handy demo kit includes flyers, circus-specific inserts (currently available for Ringling Bros., Carson & Barnes, Circus Gatti, and Cole Bros.), and 20 posters.

Your first demo kit is FREE; additional kits can be ordered for a fee, or through special arrangement with API’s circus department.

API’s New Anti-Circus Billboard

Our controversial billboard was refused by outdoor advertisers in Florida, and appeared on our specially-secured "mobile" billboard that drove around Tampa and Jacksonville to reveal to the public the truth about plight of circus animals.

You can boldly spread the message in your community. API provides the billboard materials; all you need to do is secure the space, and many billboard companies offer non-profit rates. Contact us for more information on how to secure and display a billboard in your area.

Radio and Television Announcements

Our compelling new radio and television spots feature the sights and sounds of the mistreatment of animals in the circus, as well as powerful testimony from retired police officer Blayne Doyle, who had to shoot an escaped circus elephant in 1992. Watch and listen to these announcements — which have aired on the Animal Planet, The Learning Channel, and other networks — on API’s More Beautiful Wild website.

API can help you get these announcements on the air in your community. Just contact us for assistance.

What You Can Do

There are many ways that you can work to stop mistreatment of animals in circuses. Here are just a few actions you can take; for a more comprehensive list, go to "Take Action" in Circus section of www.MoreBeautifulWild.com.

Learn the Facts

Do you know the "Four Reasons Why You Should NOT Attend a Circus that Uses Animals"? Go to www.api4animals.org/facts.php?p=427&more=1 and arm yourself with information about the truth of life under the big top.

Don’t Attend Animal Circuses

Never attend a circus that displays animals, and ask your family and friends not to attend as well. Circuses that employ only human performers are increasing in popularity, and offer families and communities the chance to be amazed and entertained in a cruelty-free manner.

API makes it easy for you to choose compassionate entertainment. Just take a look at our list of circuses that use animals and circuses that don’t in the Circus section of the More Beautiful Wild website.

Join API’s Network

API is building a nationwide team of circus activists. Be part of the action!

As circuses move across the country, we will call on activists to educate the public, linking you with others in your area for protests or to share information. Join API's Circus Activist Network and present a unified front next time an animal circus is in town! (Join online at www.MoreBeautifulWild.com or call our office.)

Contact Elected Officials

Unless they hear from you, lawmakers may not be aware of how strongly their constituents feel about the unnecessary use of animals in circuses. Your words can sway them and help bring understanding as to why ending the use of animals in these shows is so important.

Approach public officials about joining the many cities across the U.S. that have banned or restricted traveling animal acts in their city (see API’s list in the Resources section of www.MoreBeautifulWild.com). Emphasize that for the safety of animals as well as people, the city should enact a restriction on traveling animal acts and circuses.

API can help with sample model ordinances and advice on how you can get animal-friendly legislation passed in your area — just give us a call!

Write a Letter

Write a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper explaining why animal circuses mean a lifetime of misery for animals and how they pose a threat to public safety. Newspapers often run "fluff" pieces about the circus, and it is important for an opposing viewpoint to be heard. See API's "Four Reasons Why You Should NOT Attend a Circus that Uses Animals" for tips on framing your argument.

You can also write letters to businesses that sponsor the circus, urging them not to lend their support to this cruel industry. Sample letters are available in the Circus Resources section of the More Beautiful Wild website.

Sign the Pledge

Please sign and send in API’s pledge to do all you can to promote animal free-circuses. We will collect signed pledges and deliver them to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus — letting them know just how many people prefer entertainment without cruelty.

Get a copy of the pledge online or by calling API. Send your signed pledge to:

API / Circus Pledge
P.O. Box 22505
Sacramento, CA 95822

Please share your progress with API! We are thrilled to get pictures of your protests, copies of letters you send to newspapers, and the like. If your efforts receive media attention, please let us know, and send us a copy of the coverage if possible.

Together, we can truly bring about the day when animal suffering is no longer considered "entertainment"!

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