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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Circus animals can stay if treated well

Somebody call the cops — animals are being used in circus acts. Arrest every clown, magician, acrobat and ringmaster involved.

Here’s a better idea: animals can still perform and have protection without ruining some of the good things people grew up with.

“If you were given the option to roam free or be caged (and) perform on call, the question that you should ask yourself is this: would you be happy?” said animal- lover Melissa Tiburcio in an email interview. “These animals aren’t given such an option. It comes down to your individual point of view.”

Some people, including animal rights groups, think all circuses are guilty of some form of animal cruelty.

“Mammals such as tigers, bears and elephants are forced into docile roles for human entertainment in circuses in manners that cause severe anxiety and psychological mayhem,” said Chair and Associate Professor of Religious Studies Eric Mortensen, who specializes in animals in religion, in an email interview.

However, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey not only deny these claims but defend the way they care for the animals. There has been a lot of talk about how inhumanely the bull hook, or ankus, is used in the handling of elephants.

According to US News and World Report, the tool is approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Humane Association and the Elephant Managers Association. Highly trained professionals use it to extend the arm of the elephant’s handler.

 On tour, Ringling Bros. has a full-time veterinary staff who help provide the medical care needed for the animals, and they have a conservation area and breeding grounds where they retire the animals.

With the efforts of these areas and the veterinary staff they have in their employ, Ringling Bros. proves that they know what they’re doing to properly take care of every animal used for their performances.

“Kids love to see the tricks that the animals and showmen perform,” said Greensboro local Bill Horton. “(Animal rights groups) would be happy if no animals were ever used for any entertainment purposes.”

Despite Ringling Bros. pleading not guilty to any claims relating to animal abuse, they decided in 2015 to retire the elephants.

For many animal rights groups this is the first step in the right treatment for animals; however, they still want to eliminate the use of animals from circus life all together.

Aside from costing the livelihood of many people, this would be a blow to anyone who loves to see a circus. The first thing kids would want to see at a circus would be the animals.

Is there a way that we can find a compromise? Can people still see the show they expect to see, and the animals have all the necessities that qualify for a good life?

As a circus and animal lover, I’ve considered both sides and have come to the following proposition. I don’t approve of animal cruelty. But I feel as long as the outfits know how to treat these animals, a reasonable compromise could be found so that people can enjoy circus entertainment, with all it implies, and the animals can receive proper treatment and care.

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Patrick Cassidy, Staff Writer

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  • E

    EmilyMar 5, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Also, and most importantly, eyeballs don’t lie. If you’ve ever gone to a circus show you can see the elephants are covered in scars. Scars as long as several feet long. They try and put makeup on them but it’s obvious because the makeup is a deeper gray than the elephants skin. You going to tell me my eyes are lying to me??

  • E

    EmilyMar 5, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Wow…what an incredibly irresponsible article. We’re not asking that every clown, circus performer, and acrobat be arrested.

  • K

    KimMarieFeb 22, 2016 at 11:47 am

    No one wants to be beaten into submission and forced to perform, period. Let your wallet do the talking by never purchasing a ticket to a show that features animals.

  • C

    Craig ShapiroFeb 22, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus paid a record $270,000 fine for multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. A 2-year-old elephant being held at its Florida breeding and training compound died last month. Its shameless defense of bullhooks — heavy batons with a sharp, steel hook on one end — is a main reason why it is taking its elephants off the road: They are cruel weapons of intimidation, and more and more forward-thinking municipalities around the country have banned their use. Because of that, the circus can’t pitch tent. It will be no different when the elephants are sent to Florida. Babies will still be separated from their mothers, elephants will be used for medical experiments and they will still spend most of the time in chains, deprived of the chance to roam freely and socialize. Their lives on the road are miserable. They’re hauled around the country, sometimes for days at a time, in chains in hot, filthy, crowded boxcars. There can be no compromise: Captivity is murder on the elephants, as well as the lions, tigers, kangaroos, horses and all the other animals that the Saddest Show on Earth will continue to exploit.

  • J

    Jennofur OConnorFeb 22, 2016 at 5:06 am

    Hauled around the country 50 weeks a year in chains and cages. Denied everything that gives their lives meaning. Everything about using animals in the circus is inherently cruel.

  • P

    Pat CuvielloFeb 21, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    It’s easy to state you “don’t approve of animal cruelty” but what is your definition of “animal cruelty?” Circuses forcibly take baby elephants away from their mothers and beat, whip and electro-shock the elephants to get them to perform circus tricks, which are unnatural and teach us nothing about who elephants are. There is no other way to get elephants to perform circus tricks. Circuses also keep animals, such as tigers and horses, severely confined in cages where they can barely take a few steps back and forth and keeps elephants chained or in parking lot corrals about the size of 14 parking spaces. The confinement is not done for the comfort of the animals but for the ease of transportation. This treatment of animals is inherent in circuses that use animals. People, like me, who find this type of treatment cruel are not willing to “compromise” so that some people can have a job that involves cruelty to animals or so that some people can enjoy what can only be considered the degradation of majestic animals through the performance of circus tricks. If you don’t think any of the above described treatment is cruelty then your opinion is meaningless to people who advocate for animals used by circuses.