Behind the Stages of Circuses and Aquatic shows.
Enjoy watching animals perform at the circus?
Thanks to the The Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA), the biggest and saddest, or sadist, show on earth, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is now out of the mix after 146 years. But there are still circuses with animal acts.
Garden Brothers Circus; UniverSoul Circus; Carson & Barnes Circus; Carden International Circus, Inc.; Shrine Circuses; and Jordan World Circus are among the six worst.
For the grisly details, read the press release on the undercover investigation by The Humane Society of the United States.
Rest assured, if you’re watching a wild animal perform for money, you are watching it suffer and you’re witnessing the accumulation of years of abuse. And there will be many more years to come.
Consider that these animals were forced from their homes, hunted and imprisoned in cages. This is when the “training” begins.
A trained wild animal is just another word for an animal that’s had its spirit broken and been beaten into submission. In order for it to remain submissive, it is beaten on a regular basis.
Elephants, lions, tigers, and bears, oh my!, did not apply for jobs at a circus to entertain people so they could be starved and abused for the remainder of their lives.
How about dolphin and orca?
They were corralled and stolen from their home: the wide blue ocean. Man pillages the waterways as well.
Do you think they prefer chlorine-filled tubs where dead fish is rationed to swimming in the ocean with their pods, families really, and eating live, fresh fish?
We need think about why things are the way they are and how they came to be. And then once we know, we need to change them.
Circus animals are trained through fear, abuse, and punishment. Trainers use whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, and bullhooks. The latter is how elephants are trained to stand on their hind legs and twirl.
Worth it, isn’t it?
Tigers are naturally afraid of fire, but are forced to jump through flaming rings. In the wild, they are solitary, territorial by nature, and hunt and eat alone. In captivity, they are forced to live with other animals.
Imagine being an introvert and suddenly being surrounded by other people constantly. And imagine that you will live your entire life like that
This isn’t true for lions who are sociable and hunt for their pride. Still, these incompatible animals are forced to perform on stage together.
Circus animals travel and perform in all types of extreme weather and while in transit are confined to trailers and trucks without access to food or water. Elephants and tigers are chained in filthy cages in which they eat, drink, sleep, defecate, and urinate. In fact, 96 percent of their lives are spent in chains or in cages.
Circus elephants may also carry tuberculosis (TB) which can be transferred to people. But the entertainment industry cares about you about as much as they care about them.
Money is their only master.
Depriving any living creature of their natural habitats and behavior is abuse, but circuses have gotten away with it for years.
According to the Humane Society, of the United States.
“While standards for handling, care, treatment, and transport are written into the federal Animal Welfare Act (administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture), those standards are minimal and poorly enforced. Penalties are weak, and even persistent violators are rarely prosecuted.”
From September 1 -March 31 every year, the water in the Cove of Taiji, JAPAN is ground zero for the capture of dolphins for the entertainment industry.
Pods are driven by boats into the cove where they are either captured for aquatic shows or killed for their meat.
The attractive dolphins fetch a hefty price and are the ones you see most often in shows like at SeaWorld. Should that dolphin be a mother, its baby is released into the wild where it has little to no chance of survival.
Dolphin meat contains high levels of mercury and poses a health threat when eaten. Many people are unaware that it is a dolphin as it has a flavor similar to beef liver.
Are you following me? TB from elephants and mercury from dolphin meat.
Dolphins are transported in crates where they are broken-in to become entertainers.
Rest assured that dolphin smile is the biggest myth about dolphins: that’s s just their face. They are not happy and are often on anti-depressants. Another myth: they love to perform. The aforementioned medication is proof that they do not, but the reason they cooperate is because they are hungry.
And they are kept hungry.
To add to this, the fish they’re fed is dead and therefore does not supply the water that live fish in the ocean do, so they must be given drinking water as well.
The chlorine in the pools stings their eyes and often they cannot dive deep enough to get away from the burning rays of the sun. They are mammals and their skin is sensitive.
Lastly, when they are not performing, they are left to languish in the cement cages, oftentimes alone.
Advocates for the Sea
But something is being done.
Richard “Ric” O’Barry is an animal rights activist and former animal trainer.
Ric captured and trained the five dolphins that were used in the television show Flipper. Then he had an amazing grace moment. As one of the dolphins lay dying in his arms, he realized that he had to stop exploiting these extraordinary creatures and advocate for them.
In 1970, he founded the Dolphin Project.
Still for six months every year, the hunt continues and the Cove runs red with blood. Literally.
In addition to dolphin, Orca, who actually fall into the dolphin category, are also captured. In 1997, at the time Keiko, the orca from the movie Free Willy, was on track to be rehabilitated and released, a pod of 10 orcas was driven into Hatajiri Bay by the Isana Fisherman’s Union.
Of the ten, five were captured and sold for a total of the equivalent of $1M in US currency. Known as the Taiji five, all were transported to different facilities for entertainment and by 2007 all of them were dead.
Orca are known to live up to 70 years in the wild.
In captivity, their fate is no better than their brothers and sisters: the dolphin.
First and foremost, tanks are not large enough for these giants to really be able to swim. They do not always get along and in an enclosure, are unable to escape their foes like they can in the ocean.
Male orcas have collapsed dorsal fins, most likely because they are unable to swim fast and free. This is seen in 80–90 percent of captive orcas. SeaWorld claims this is common, but it is never seen in wild orca in the ocean.
Thankfully, SeaWorld is discontinuing orca breeding and shows in 2019.
Animal rights activists continue to fight the slaughter claiming that fisherman are routinely exceeding government set quotas. But what might put an end to it once and for all is being put into action by the London-based organization Action for Dolphins and the Japanese NGO Life Investigation Agency. (The latter has come under investigation for killing companion animals within several days, though they deny it.)
According to the Guardian, “Dolphins are mistakenly viewed as fish in Japan, therefore laws protecting mammals have not being applied to them.” The article also points out that “dolphins are biologically mammals, and the cruelty inflicted on them in Taiji is illegal under their own laws.”
The allegations are made against Yoshinobu Nisaka, the governor of Wakayama prefecture, where Taiji is located, and allege he has abused his power by issuing permits to fishermen. Thus far, the prefecture has not responded to the lawsuit.
What You Can Do
The capture and enslavement of these animals is a result of a demand in the entertainment industry, so the solution is simple:
- Do Not attend any aquatic or circuses or any other type of wild animal shows. If people stop paying, then the demand will go away. It took 146 years, but Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey is now a thing of the past.
- If you want to observe animal behavior, go to a sanctuary, a wildlife park, on safari, or out into the wild blue ocean. If you want to see how an animal lives then it’s best to do it in their natural habitats. And you get the added bonus of being outdoors.
- Spread the word. Now that you know, tell other people. Many people are unaware, perhaps blissfully, that this type of abuse exists. Seeing is believing.
- Let your Congressman know you support TEASPA, HR 1759, also known as the Federal Circus Bill. It has done well, but public support will improve its chances of advancing. Lawmakers may not be aware of how many of their constituents are animal rights advocates. Remember: animal welfare isn’t a partisan issue.
- Login in to Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project. Take a look at his Latest News and different ways you can help.
- Another organization that supports keeping dolphins and whales safe and free is the Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
- Join an animal rights group. PETA is one of many and was instrumental in fighting Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for years. World Wildlife Fund, Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), and Big Cat Rescue are just a few that are dedicated to the welfare of animals.
Animal entertainment is as barbaric as the gladiatorial games, though it is done under the pretense that the animals are having fun. Fun at the expense of suffering is inhumane.
As the only species that can talk, and write, we have a duty to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. All life is precious.
So please, speak up and take action. There is never a time when cruelty is acceptable.