Posted 4 June 2010 by Jesse Permalink | 7 Comments
circuses, exotic animals, The Onion, funny, elephants, entertainment
I still remember being taken to the circus as a kid. One of the things I remember most about the circus were the elephants. I remember how they were dressed up with cloaks and head-dresses. I remember they even put glitter on them! I also remember how those gentle giants performed the cutest tricks (or at least I thought so at the time) with just a small tap on the side from their trainer.
Something I never realised at the time was that those elephants were performing such unnatural and awkward tricks because they had spent countless hours in 'training', being beaten with a hook if they refused to perform. I also never realised till years later, that the glitter that made the elephants all the more spectacular when I was a child was probably hiding 'training' wounds.
Is there any bigger facade than animal circuses? Children watch in innocent amazement as wild animals are dressed up and tormented for their entertainment. I wish I'd known the truth then. I never would have gone along with it.
So yesterday, I was glad to read the headline "Children of All Ages Delighted by Enslavement of Topsy the Elephant" on the front page of the satirical news site, The Onion. This story is at the same time shocking, hilarious and spot on. It's well worth a read...
Here are a few of the best snippets from the article:
"He's such a funny happy elephant," said 8-year-old Madison Helms, referring to the abused creature that spends the majority of his time chained up in a cramped, feces-covered enclosure. "He loves being in the circus!"
"Look, they're dancing," said 5-year-old Jonah Meeks, mistaking the elephants' constant swaying for something that wasn't a maladaptive behavior caused by serious psychological trauma. "I can dance like an elephant, too. Look at me!"
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Posted 14 March 2010 by Jesse Permalink | 17 Comments
Saigon, exotic animals, animal circuses, elephants, entertainment, Perry Bros Circus
Unfortunately, the good news for Australia's last circus elephant was short lived. Despite a huge public plea to retire Saigon, and despite advising Animals Australia that they would take her home after their last string of shows, Perry Bros have now announced on their website that they will be carting Saigon off to Bayswater for their next set of shows.
After 50 years on the road, Saigon deserves a better life than to spend another month locked in a small barren enclosure, with traffic rushing by and a shopping centre for a view.
And so Animals Australia's campaign to free Australia's last circus elephant must be taken to the next level, and all options will be considered including: public advertising, demonstrations, and pressure on the government of VIC to catch up to other states and ban circuses from keeping solitary elephants.
If you haven't signed the petition to 'Free Saigon' yet, please take this opportunity to add your name. If you have, then please print out a copy and get all your friends to sign as well (and then post the sheets back to the office: 37 O'Connell st, North Melbourne, VIC 3051).
Thanks for your support with this campaign!
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Posted 17 December 2009 by Karen Permalink | 28 Comments
exotic animals, animal circuses, bull hooks, elephants, entertainment, Ringling Bros.
Animal circuses have long wanted us to believe that exotic animals that are forced to perform under the big top do so because they 'love' to perform. They wanted us to believe that circus animals are well cared for, and learn those unnatural and demeaning 'tricks' through 'reward systems' - and not through violence, and fear of punishment.
But seriously, how DO you get a wild 3.5 tonne animal to abandon its natural behaviours in favour of standing on her head in front of noisy crowds and gawking children? The late former Ringling Bros. elephant handler-turned-whistleblower Sam Haddock shines some light on the 'methods' used to break the spirits of baby elephants at the Ringling "conservation center" (elephant breeding and training centre) in Florida:
There is a reason it takes a whistleblower to get these images to the public. Tying up baby elephants, using electric prods and jabbing them with painful 'bull hooks' don't exactly make pretty pictures. Ringling and other animal circuses know that people would refuse to pay to see animals perform if they had any idea what really happens to these animals when the costumes come off and the audience goes home. And if you're hoping it might be any better for animals down under, think again...
John Le Mare, who is the Executive Secretary of the Circus Federation of Australia, claimed earlier this year that "There is no need to have [animals] doing anything other than variations on natural behaviour during play and socialisation". Fooled yet? He then said: "Ringling Bros Circus in the United States, for example, has its own elephant breeding program, and is likely to come up with new techniques for the care and training of many animals over the next year or so. That will push us to have another hard look at what we're doing here and improve animal welfare in Australian circuses even further by adopting some of those practices..."(source)
If Australia is taking animal welfare tips from notorious animal abusers like Ringling, then the future is bleak for the many remaining prisoners of Australia's animal circuses. These animals are relying on us. If you know anyone who attends animal circuses, please show them these pictures! And if you see an animal circus coming to your town, contact your local council immediately and ask them to follow the lead of other caring towns that have stood up to animal abuse and banned exotic animal circuses from performing on their land.
For the elephants <3
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