Archive for Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Letter to the editor: No circus for this family

August 25, 2004

It makes me sad to hear that once again, the circus is coming. I understand it's a tradition. I can remember attending a circus as a child. But because of what I know now, my daughter and I won't go.

Family entertainment doesn't need to include cruelty to animals. The use of animals in circuses is barbaric. Elephants, bears and tigers live in small cages on chains, in boxcars 50 weeks of every year. These animals are intelligent, feeling beings that deserve to live where nature intended them to live. Circus animals usually don't experience freedom. When one circus is done with them, they are sold to another. The animals are either born in captivity or are stolen from their natural habitat. In the wild, elephants develop strong bonds with family members, and females stay with their mothers their entire lives. Elephants are also known to walk 25 miles every day. You can imagine how stressful circus life must be for them.

Ringling Bros. along and other circuses do not use positive reinforcement. Primates wear electric collars so their trainers can shock them. Dogs are withheld food. Bull hooks and whips are used on elephants. Animals definitely don't perform their ridiculous tricks because they enjoy it; they do it out of fear. Obviously it is unnatural for an elephant to walk on its hind legs, or a tiger to jump through fire, or a bear to walk on a tightrope. Ringling Bros. has a record with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the cruelty and neglect of their animals. You may recall that recently a lion died in a Ringling Bros. boxcar while traveling through Arizona. He died from the heat.

There are many circuses with only human performers. Animals aren't born to perform bicycle acts wearing tutus. They can't speak up for themselves. Children should learn about wild animals for what they really are. The only thing Ringling Bros. teaches a child is the misconception that animals are ours to do with as we like. I would rather my daughter learn about elephants by watching Animal Planet than to see them in real life at a circus.

Kris Taylor,

Tonganoxie.

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