Exotic Animals in Circus
It’s a debate that has haunted the circus world for decades: should exotic animals be allowed in circuses? Some people say that it’s a “tradition” and the circus just wouldn’t be the same without our wild furry friends to entertain us. Some people even say that it is crucial in the conservation of certain species because circuses provide homes away from poachers that are hunting these wild animals down to extinction. Others, however, claim that exotic animals in the circus is “antiquated & inhumane” and should be stopped; exotic animals should be free to roam the earth without being “forced” to do unnatural things that they wouldn’t normally do in the wild (like jumping through hoops lit on fire). To be fair, the reason why the circus exists at all is, in fact, because of animals… whether we like it or not.
In Ancient Rome, the circus was a building for the exhibition of horse and chariot races, equestrian shows, staged battles, displays featuring trained animals, jugglers and acrobats. The circus of Rome is thought to have been influenced by the Greeks, with chariot racing and the exhibition of animals as traditional attractions… In Ancient Rome the circus was the only public spectacle at which men and women were not separated. – Wikipedia
Even then, people were able to put their differences aside and join together for the sake of entertainment, as gruesome as it may have been. For centuries, having animals in circuses wasn’t only “acceptable”, it was expected. The show called “P.T. Barnum’s Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome” was later known as ”The Greatest Show on Earth” mainly because of the unique animals they were able to exhibit around the country through thier traveling show; such as Jumbo the elephant.
Paul McCartney has thrown his support behind Animal Defenders International (ADI), which is calling for a UK ban of all exotic animals in the circus. The former “Beatle” said in a statement: “I hate to see wild animals in circuses. It is heartbreaking to see these poor animals confined in small cages and carted around the country with little respect for their welfare and well-being. I have made my feelings known previously on this subject and I believe an outright ban is long overdue.”
Even within our industry, you’ll find circus performers conflicted on whether or not exotic animals should continue to perform in circuses. Many circus performers are against it, while a great many others are not. Circuses like Cirque du Soleil and Circus Vargas thrive on being Animal-free and are very succesful because of it. Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) has introduced a legislation that outlaws the transportation of animals and targets circuses. This legislation would make it impossible for Ringling Bros. or any other circus to continue to operate with exotic animals. Perhaps we are witnessing the end of an era? Both the U.K. and the U.S. are determined to ban exotic animals in circuses, the end may be nearer than we think. If you think it’s a bad idea to ban exotic animals in circuses, write a letter to your Representative, make your opposition known and send your letter to Congress. Otherwise, you’ll have to visit your local zoo to get your wild animal fix. ■
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