When our big sis Animals Australia broke this story last month, you helped us make it spread like wildfire across Facebook and Twitter and eventually the owners of the cubs listened to the community's views and did the right thing.
Had the original plan gone through, adorable Spike and gorgeous Spot would have faced a life on the road in a small boring enclosure without any opportunity to act like lions.
I'm sure you're as thrilled as we are, and this really goes to show just what can be achieved through PEOPLE POWER!
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, two older lions have just been rescued from a French Circus and are settling in at a Wildlife Park in the UK. Brutus and Clarence are now learning how to be lions again …something that, thanks to you, Spike & Spot may never have to do.
Don't forget to take the pledge to help end circus cruelty by clicking here!
Have you heard the good news? Last week British MPs voted to ban exotic animals from circuses from next year! Hip Hooray!
Facing opposition as fierce as a lion's roar from the British Prime Minister, the people power of the backbenchers won out in the end, with a unanimous vote to end circus cruelty.
Just why the PM was trying to block a ban is a mystery. After all, animals in circuses live a pretty depressing life; being carted across country in small barren travelling cages, being forced to live in tiny enclosures when the circus is in town. Often these animals revert to swaying from side to side or biting the bars of their cages – behaviour that signals stress and boredom.
The circus life is a far cry from their natural habitat, and gives wild animals virtually zero chance of expressing their natural behaviours. So it's a good thing the pollies in the UK seem to be on the ball (and not a balancing ball!).
England will follow progressive countries like Portugal and Bolivia in banning exotic animals from circuses. In Australia, several councils have imposed their own bans while they wait for the federal government here to catch up.Ipswich, Ku-Ring-Gai and the Gold Coast are just a few of the councils that would rather see truly talented acrobats performing tricks than miserable monkeys or tormented tigers.
Hands down, the best circus I have ever seen is Cirque Du Soleil and not one animal in sight! They're gonna be around next month, and I highly recommend you check them out. But if you can't see one of those shows you can still pledge to protect animals from circuses and only attend animal-friendly circuses. You could even write to your local council and ask them to join the growing list of animal-free circus destinations.
What's the best circus you've ever seen? Or, the worst?
Roll up! Roll up! The circus is in town! Come along to stare at the bearded lady, marvel at the amazing acrobats on the highwire, laugh at the clowns and cry when you see the miserable performing monkeys, lions, tigers and bears – oh my! Stop! The show mustn't go on!
How great is this clever ad by Italian animal rights group, the LAV? Just like a puppet on a string, an animal in a circus is forced to perform whether he wants to or not. And I bet he'd rather not. I mean, who would want to sit in a tiny barren enclosure, only to be let out to perform ridiculously humiliating 'tricks' that he would never do in the wild?
Travelling between towns is no fun for him either – cooped up for days on end in the back of trains or trucks. It's no surprise that many animals kept this way develop worrying habits like pacing, swaying, or biting the cage bars.
We want to see cruel animal circuses go the way of the dinosaurs, and we're starting with New South Wales! Animals Australia, together with Animals Asia and RSPCA NSW want the whole state to get rid of this outdated practice (I refuse to use the word 'entertainment').
If you're in NSW, you can help!Print out this petition and get it chock full of signatures and send it back by May 1st. It's going straight to the top – to be tabled in the NSW parliament by the Lord Mayor of Sydney!
Councils like Ku-Ring-Gai and Lismore in NSW and Ipswich and Gold Coast in QLD have already banned circuses with exotic animals so we know it can be done! Once you've done your part, click here to let us know!
Not in NSW? You can still help by taking the pledge to end circus cruelty. Ask your local council to ban animal circuses or write a letter to the editor of your local paper.
Animal cruelty is just not entertaining. What would you rather see in a circus?
When you think of animals in circuses, what comes to mind? ... Elephants, lions, monkeys, goldfish ... hold up! ... goldfish?
Yes, you read right - goldfish. The Moscow circus was this week banned from performing an act in which a woman swallowed 3 live goldfish and then regurgitated them, after Animals Australia reported the act to the NSW Govt.
It's bad enough that elephants and other exotic animals suffer miserable cramped and inadequate lives in circuses, but how could anyone imagine that swallowing a live animal would make for wholesome family entertainment? Mind you, if you ask me, swallowing dead animals at the dinner table hardly makes for a wholesome family activity either.
Anyway, if you're thinking "But they're just goldfish, don't they have a 3 second memory?", then to dispell this myth I'll refer you to that amazing fountain of knowledge that is Japanese Novelty TV:
I bet you didn't expect to see synchronised swimming goldfish when you woke up this morning ;)
...they have humps to carry their drinks in, right?
Try telling that to the organisers of the annual Camel Cup held in July in Alice Springs, who bill a day of camel racing as a fun family event.
Update 04/07/11: Sadly, this silly race is on again in 2011, scheduled to run on Saturday 9th of July
I couldn't help but wonder after stumbling across this spectacle online, who would dream up such a camel crazy idea. I wasn't really surprised to learn that it was two blokes who'd had too much to drink at the pub one night! An intoxicated idea is very rarely a good one!
OK, so the thought of a camel race may be funny, but to actually see it, and the boofhead spectators laughing their heads off at the poor animals, is actually pretty sad.
It's bad enough that people race horses and greyhounds, but now they want to subject docile dromedaries to uncomfortable saddles and lashing whips as well?!
The ridiculous racing event, previously sponsored by Coles[Update 04/07/11: Coles now seem to have seen the light and no longer sponsor the race. Woo!] and XXXX Gold among others, also features dull dudes and dopey damsels vying for the titles of Mr and Miss Camel Cup. I'm not kidding! The guys have to walk like a camel and the girls have to display their knowledge of camel fun facts.
There's also Rickshaw Races, Kids Kamel Kapers and the "hilarious" Honeymoon Handicap ... clearly a plain camel race is not entertaining enough, they feel the need to rob the animals of every single ounce of dignity they have!
I bet if you asked a camel what he thought of The Cup, he'd happily spit in your face!
Oh and here's a fun fact. A camel's hump actually holds fat reserves, not water at all. But I'm sure Miss Camel Cup already knew that!
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.
"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!"
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).
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.
Another well preserved cultural form of animal cruelty is the animal circus. Ever been to one? I have many times (for work) and it breaks my heart every time to see the animals living in such disgraceful conditions. Elephants chained by two legs most of the day, standing in their own excrement; lions, tigers, monkeys locked in cages where they can do nothing more than walk a few steps.
But this cruel excuse for 'entertainment' is increasingly becoming banned around the world and the latest country to show some progressive thinking is ... Portugal. ... huh? The same Portugal where they still love their bullfights? Yes, that Portugal! After long running campaigns such as this brilliant advertising campaign (see bottom this blog for more of the ads), the Portuguese Prime Minister last week signed a law which immediately bans the use of great apes in circuses and makes it illegal for circuses to breed their exotic animals or acquire new ones. This in effect means that exotic animals in circuses will soon be history in Portugal. Way to go Premiero Ministro!
That might leave you wondering: What's happening in Australia? Well, some councils have finally introduced bans on exotic animal circuses. But state and federal governments are still stuck in the middle ages. In fact, they even promote them on their website, saying: "Australia is a world leader in the care of circus animals". I can assure you the world would be in a pretty sad state if all animals were treated as 'well' as Australian circus animals!
If you've got a moment to spare, you might like to write to your local council, or your local MP to urge them to follow Portugal's compassionate lead and ban animal circuses.
Some great news came out of Ipswich this week. Ipswich City Council voted to ban exotic animals from being used in circuses on council land. That makes Ipswich the first council in Queensland to take a stand against cruel animal circuses. Woot!
And it's about time! The lives of wild animals in circuses is the pits. They are tormented and abused to instill fear, so they will perform tricks for the audience. (Have you notice that it's a whip not a reward that they use?) Elephant 'trainers' often use a bullhook (a stick with a sharp metal hook on one end) to control or punish elephants. This hook is dug into senstitive parts of their body such as behind their ears, in their mouth or the bottoms of their feet.
When not performing, these animals, who might wander tens, if not hundreds of kilometers in a day in the wild, are confined in tiny barren cages. They spend months on the road carted from town to town, to be brought out on stage to perform in bright, loud tents for onlookers.
So a big hoorah to Ispwich Council for taking a stand against animal cruelty. Here's hoping a few more councils follow suit. If you have a moment, please write to Ipswich to congratulate them on the ban (email@example.com). And you might even like to write to your own local council and encourage them to ban exotic animal circuses too!
While I'm at it, I thought I'd also share these brilliant campaign posters from a collaboration between two portuguese animal advocacy groups, Acção Animal and Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos do Animal. They really sum it up well:
"Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls for the crack of the whip against the animal's stinging wounds. A big round of applause for the flaming hoops, the injuries and the electric shocks. Come and see the famed number of cages and tightly binding chains allowing no escape from endless training sessions. Laugh, applaud and join in with the repetitive choreographed routines typical of depressed animals under great stress. All the fun of the circus travelling from city to city exhibiting animals as human caricatures. Clowning around that's no fun at all. Animal circuses, don't be part of the show."
(If you're keen to check out some other clever NGO campaigns, I found these at: osocio.org)
We’re supposed to let you know that the ideas expressed here are the views of the individual authors, and may not necessarily reflect the views of Animals Australia or Animals Australia Unleashed. So now you know.