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Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus and TNT are teaming up for a new reality series that is to follow the circus train on onme of it's tours of America.  What almost certainly won't be shown is the oppresive conditions that the circus animals, especially the elephants, must live under and the abuse they must endure for people's enetertainment.

Elephants, tigers, and other circus animals travel 11 months of the year, more often than not on long trips in cramped quarters. When they arrive at the next city they are, for obvious public safety reasons, not allowed to raom but are kep shackled.  In nature elephants roam up to 25 miles in a single day. If you went to a zoo and saw the animals kept in the conditions that circuses keep them in you would be outraged and shocked and almost certainly moved to action.

Training these animals is esepcially cruel.  To train elephants, circuses frequently make use of a bullhook, a long stick with a sharp pointed hook at the end.  


The purpose is of course to instill obedience by inflicting pain on the animal. The following video graphically exposes the cruelty.

On YouTube you can find dozens of videos of animal abuse at the hands of their trainers. This is just the tip of the iceberg, elephants and other wild animals are also a threat to the public.  Elephants and tigers are not meant for the life they are forced to lead in the circus.

Do you think for a second TNT will show off this aspect of Ringling Brothers? Of course not, Ringling Brothers wouldn't allow access if they did.  No, this will almost certainly be a highly sanitized presentation that will only serve to legitimize the animal circus.

What can you do? Tell TNT not to do this by sending them a letter
letting them know that animal abuse of this nature is not acceptable.

Apart from TNT there is more you can do.  Of course not attending animal circuses would be the best thing you could do.  There are many circuses do not use animals in the acts.

More information on creulty in animal circuses and what you can do can be found at Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute.

Originally posted to Gangster Octopus on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:11 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I hope this diary gets rescued. This issue... (5+ / 0-)

    is so important.  Circuses acts with animals are absoluely cruel.  It is nothing more than slavery.  

    Go see Cirque du Soleil and leave the elephants and the tigers in the jungle.

  •  TNT et al should treat the elephants better (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but seeing the wild animals motivates conservation and preservation. Conservation of those species was almost absent in the US before Barnum & Bailey began displaying the animals in the late 19th century, so the animals are proselytizing for their species interest, even if those animals themselves don't realise that.

    When you go to the zoo, there are explanations of where the animals live in the wild and enticements to help with the conservation in that area. I don't know that circuses have caught up, but I see a big opportunity there if they haven't been doing that.

    So I fundamentally disagree with you that exotic and wonderful animals should not entertain people. Hippie granolas like us (and I DO include myself in that) would support preservation anyway, but the animals themselves are much more convincing.

    SeattleDanny Election 2008: YouTube versus feeding tube

    by SeattleDanny on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:21:43 AM PDT

    •  The argument about "seeing wild animals... (4+ / 0-)

      motivating conservation and preservation" is specious.

      It might work for zoos (although I'm against that as well because there are far too many of them), but circus are about making animals perform on cue--doing things that they would never do in the wild.

      Be safe Barack Obama.

      by David Kroning on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:30:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's not specious (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        go walk in a zoo, you'll see childern there fascinated by wildlife and wanting to know more.

        Hell it's just antcedonal by I got involved with conservation because of seeing wildlife in the zoo and to a smaller extent seeing circuses.

        •  Re-read what I wrote.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mama hearts obama

          Be safe Barack Obama.

          by David Kroning on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:33:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  okay, and what am I missing? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            you make the arguement that conservation though seeing wild animals is specious because for zoos there are too many of them and in circus because animals behave in a manner they wouldn't in the wild.

            did I miss something?

            It's still not specious and frankly I just don't get the zoo arguement and as for circuses it's not just about if the animal is acting wild it's about seeing the animals up close and witnessing first hand how incredible they are.

            I don't like, agree with or put up with cruel treatment of any animal; at the same time not all circuses are cruel.

            •  Because...I said clearly... (5+ / 0-)

              that zoos are different from circuses.

              Nevertheless, zoos still put animals in cages on display.  Wild animals do not need to live in zoos, they need to live in the wild.  We need to save more habitat and build fewer zoos.

              Be safe Barack Obama.

              by David Kroning on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:40:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Though to be fair (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Adam B

                animals in cages are mostly a thing of the past.  Most modern zoos have multi million dollar  areas which are in the open not in cages.  


                by GlowNZ on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:45:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  They are still cages... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mama hearts obama

                  The animals are not free and they serve no purpose in the ecosystem--they become tools of commerce, tourism, and science.

                  Be safe Barack Obama.

                  by David Kroning on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:47:25 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  No but you have to be realistic (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    pico, David Kroning

                    Those animals in the zoos can not be released into the wild, they would not cope.  You can be all "all animals need to be in the wild" all you like but the fact remains that humans fucked with the eco systems so much that it is our responsibilty to take care of the animals that cannot go back to the wild


                    by GlowNZ on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:49:05 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes, that is why we need to stop building zoos... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      snackdoodle, mama hearts obama

                      You see, zoos become captive breeding outlets which are used to create more zoos.

                      Imagine if instead of building zoos we used those funds to save more habitat?

                      Zoos are important for education and science.  Unfortunately, cities see them as a way to draw tourism revenue.

                      Be safe Barack Obama.

                      by David Kroning on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:51:25 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Sorry wrong. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        pico, drache

                        competely misinformed.  the breeding programe that zoos have are to keep endangered species alive which humans have made endangered.  You just want those species to die?


                        by GlowNZ on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:52:40 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  No, those breeding programs (in many cases) (0+ / 0-)

                          are breeding animals that will never live in the wild.

                          They no longer serve any purpose in the earth's biosphere, because they have no place to live other than in a zoo.

                          Panda's are a very good example of this.  Panda habitat has been decimated.  Most of the pandas in the world live in a zoo.

                          The same thing for Siberian tigers.

                          Be safe Barack Obama.

                          by David Kroning on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:55:05 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  My point exactly. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            pico, drache

                            and thats all down to Humans.  We are to blame for the current state of the animal kingdom being in such a mess.  Now, zoos are not perfect but would u rather see  them all extinct or in a zoo?  What needs to happen is that humans need to be educated in to leaving the wild animals alone in the wild.  Their habitates need to be respected and left alone, and FIXED.  


                            by GlowNZ on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:58:34 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  There is no real point... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            in saving animals from extinction if they are only to live their lives forever more in zoos.

                            That is not just my argument, that is one held by many wildlife biologists and ecologists.

                            We must get back to the message of stemming habitat loss and habitat rehabilitation.

                            Be safe Barack Obama.

                            by David Kroning on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 10:03:08 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Yeah, it would be nice if we did that. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            And in the meantime, zoos are doing a valuable service by keeping certain species alive.  This isn't an either/or proposition, David.  

                            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                            by pico on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 10:11:25 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Unfortunately pico... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            As long as we equate zoos with tourism and making money off of exploiting animals, they will have, at best, a mixed purpose.

                            Unfortunately, when people go to zoos they often don't leave with the most important message--that these animals don't belong there.

                            Be safe Barack Obama.

                            by David Kroning on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 10:25:08 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm a little ambivalent about that. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            David Kroning

                            I was also lucky enough to grow up with a zoo that pushed a lot of time and money into conservation efforts, and that's exactly the message they were trying to get through to people: wildlife terrain first, zoos second.  So I do recognize that that has altered my perceptions of what a zoo can accomplish.  

                            But personally, I don't have a problem with a portion of wildlife being used for commerce, or from animals being taught tricks.  I don't see what the issue is in either case.

                            I do see an issue if the training is physically abusive or involves deplorable conditions.  Or if no one's working to restore and maintain actual habitats.  But not in zoos and circuses per se.

                            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                            by pico on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 10:33:48 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Fair enough. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            As with most issues, not everyone will be in complete agreement. If we can agree as a starting point that humane standards should be adhered to, and that conservation and preservation of species in the wild is the first objective, there is room for people to focus their energies on what they consider important.

                            I'm not out to shut down animal shows--but I want people to understand the reality of the conditions. And I want to keep the pressure on to adhere to established humane practices.

                            Well Dayum! The Fat Lady just sang her tits right off!

                            by homogenius on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 11:03:29 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  That's a fair point, and I agree. n/t (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                            by pico on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 11:09:03 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Not only that but Zoos seldom have (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            David Kroning

                            sufficient genetic diversity for those breeding programs to be useful for saving a species.

                          •  that's why zoos interbreed and send (0+ / 0-)

                            animals to zoos in other parts of the world.

                            Sorry but they're 2 steps ahead of you.

                          •  I don't think so, its one of the biggest (0+ / 0-)

                            criticisms of those breeding programs is not enough diversity. They do trade animals and artifically inseminate, but I hope they don't interbreed. You aren't going to save an endangered species by creating a hybrid of it.

                            White Tigers are a good example of what I am talking about.

                            White tigers are members of this depleting species of tiger, with a population of less than 133 in the world, all of which are confined to life in captivity. The Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio has the highest population, though the lineage derives completely from India.

                            White tigers have many birth fatalities because of inbreeding.
                            Because there are just three gene pools, all of which are native and born in India, inbreeding depressions have shown up in the White tiger, causing stillbirths, early mortality rates, reduced fertility and emergence of physical deformities in the newborns. Unfortunately, even the breeding of a tiger carrying this recessive mutation with a heterozygote individual produced a lop-sided sex ratio of male: female of 1:0.195. In my research of White tigers, the depression statistics ranged from 43.48% to 60.37%, calculated in the first decade of their breeding in four different institutions (three in India, one in the UK), as can be seen below.

                          •  i phrased that badly (0+ / 0-)

                            I meant zoos send animals to different zoos trying to keep the max amount of diveristy.

                            Sure there are limits based on population size but they're in many ways trying to stop a flood with a bunch of sticks and it irritates me that you would mock that.

                            It's in many ways a losing battle and propostion but at least they're fighting. Which it seems is more then I can say for you.

                          •  Even they know the answer is rehabilitating (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            habitat. Check out theFrozen Zoo. When they breed endangered species with insufficient diversity they breed in problems, they actually weaken the strain. While it sounds wonderful and hopeful in reality it is expensive, not terribly effective in putting animals back into the wild and frought with issues directly linked to inbreeding. Another example is two or three generations down the line of this inbreeding is producing females who not only have low fertility, but lack the ability to raise her young. There are no easy answers, no band aids.

                          •  look (0+ / 0-)

                            in essence we agree here, the only probelm seems to be you want to jam down my throat that zoos are bad or something.

                            And I disagree.

                            Yes inbreeding is a probelm but there are success stories too. It's probably inevietable that some animals we have so completely screwed that if we're lucky they'll hang around in zoos for a couple decades. Others hopefully will be reintroduced to the wild.

                            You're right there are no easy answers that's why I support zoos that think they're doing something to help. Because that's the best that can be done.

                  •  Zoos (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    World Citizen, GlowNZ, David Kroning

                    Zoos need to also be held to high standards of care, and many zoos do attempt to do that. Zoos proivide educational value and are much better at promoting conservation than circuses.  Many zoos, of course, fail as well, elephants in many zoos are subject to bullhooks, much like circus elephants. But in reality the difference between circuses and zoos is immense.

                    Don't get me started on roadside zoos.

              •  nice in theory (0+ / 0-)

                but where would you put them?

                Seriously where? Who is going to sacerfice for them? When will we give up our relentless eating up of thier habit for them?

                I'd love it if the majority of people woke up to the harm they're doing, but in the meantime it's just as important to triage the situation and stem the metaphorical bleeding.

                And fyi, most animals in the zoo aren't in cages as they understand it. Zoos have moved past the 60s when it was for display purposes.

                I understand your point but I don't think it valid in today's zoos.

      •  I agree 100% (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        World Citizen, GlowNZ, David Kroning

        The only good that should come from watching animals made to do things they would not do naturally is to make the public outraged.

        I don't totally agree with zoos but at least they've come a long way in providing natural habitats and they do promote conservation, especially for endangered species.

      •  I don't disagree with you, what is more (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        homogenius, MT Spaces, David Kroning

        circus' make no attempt to educate or show animals acting naturally. If anything they tend to give the wrong impression about these animals.

        My circus story. When I was about 3 the circus (Ringling's) was coming to a town 82 miles from where I lived. My uncle woke me up in the middle of the night so we could see the animals taken off the circus train. My uncle tells me it was pretty amazing sight,  I on the other hand have only one memory of that day. He was carrying me on his shoulders so I could have a better view of everything. We stopped at the tiger's cage, he tipped me forward so I could see better. At that moment the tiger looked up and we made eye contact. I smiled and the tiger licked his lips, I have been in love with tigers ever since. Never mind the tiger probably was thinking I would be a tasty niblet for breakfast, in my toddler mind we had bonded deeply and forever. As far as I'm concerned not even Sigfried and Roy make it OK.

        As for Zoos there are "good" and bad, but in the last 20 years many Zoos have tried to be more than just a row of cages. Some have done a good job of showing animals in a more natural setting and habitat. Don't think that makes Zoos a good deal for the animals because there is staggering animal cruelty in Zoos as well. Not just in living conditions but in their disposal of surplus animals.

        The plight of big cats in sanctuaries.

        The Born Free organization and their Zooratings, click on the links and they will tell you what they found.

        The Humane Society's take on Zoos

        These are just a few.

    •  I live in the town... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Kroning

      ...where it all began with the Bailey elephant, still our town's symbol.  

      Fear will keep the local systems in line. -Grand Moff Tarkin -SLB-

      by boran2 on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:43:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You can see animals in a zoo! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Kroning

      thats where the education is, not a fucking circus.

      by GlowNZ on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:43:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  a point (0+ / 0-)

    while there are circus that are cruel and deserve frankly to be treated like they have treated thier animals; not all circus are bad.

    I won't speak to where Ringling Bros is in terms of this but I just wanted to point that out

  •  Animal circuses should be banned (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kroning

    by GlowNZ on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 09:42:48 AM PDT

  •  My family switched over to Cirque du Soleil. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueSue, David Kroning

    The kids love it, no animal mistreatment, and a celebration of amazing talent under the big top! We also enjoy some zoos (such as the Bronx Zoo, and the San Diego Zoo), and don't go to smaller ones, which seem to more about making money than treating the animals properly.

    My relationship with God is defined not by religion and ritual, but by attitude and action.

    by World Citizen on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 10:25:11 AM PDT

    •  Cirque is the Greatest Show on Earth (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      World Citizen

      These are great shows! Far more entertaining than Ringling Bros.

    •  Small /= bad. (0+ / 0-)

      I had that attitude about zoos until I went to the San Jose zoo with my librarian friend and her toddler. It's a wonderful children's zoo with excellent interpretive displays. I came away very impressed having learned a valuable lesson.

      More recently we went to the San Francisco Zoo and saw the good and the bad. Their fairly new African Savannah is a terrific habitat. But we also saw some older enclosures, several of which are no longer in use, that reflect the old "cage mentality" of decades past.

      I remain uneasy about Zoos in general. But for the present I am content to keep the emphasis on developing larger, more naturalistic habitats and focusing on conservation and rehabilitation. Also on enforcement of professional standards.

      As for circuses, I'll continue to support animal-free shows. I'm not out to shut down animal shows, but I think we need to keep up the pressure to comply with humane standards of treatment and educate people about the realities (and not the made-for-commercial-tv version of reality).

      Well Dayum! The Fat Lady just sang her tits right off!

      by homogenius on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 10:59:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was concerned that someone might take my (0+ / 0-)

        placement of that darn comma to mean that I think all small zoos are bad. I don't think that. Perhaps I should have either removed my comma, and added in "some of the" before "smaller." Looks like it's time for me to re-read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. Thanks for your thoughtful reply! :-)

        My relationship with God is defined not by religion and ritual, but by attitude and action.

        by World Citizen on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 11:03:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Zoos give up their elephants (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Detroit, San Francisco and Philadelphia have given up their elephants - not always for altruistic reasons but at least they're being sent to sanctuaries where they can roam and live in a herd.

    From the Humane Society

    Captive elephants, on average, live shorter lives and suffer from debilitating foot conditions, tuberculosis, arthritis, and other medical conditions and ailments. They live in unnaturally cramped conditions, are forced to limit their complex social lives, and are regularly subjected to abusive training methods and handling.

    For these reasons, and more, The Humane Society of the United States is asking zoos to completely rethink the way they exhibit elephants. Our idea will take coordination, cooperation and maybe a little seed cash. But the results could radically improve the lives of hundreds of elephants currently held in captivity.


    There are between 500 and 600 elephants in zoos, circuses, private facilities and sanctuaries in the United States. The vast majority of these animals live a kind of subsistence life, merely surviving in captive environments that cannot provide for their biological or behavioral needs.

    These compromised conditions would appear to play a significant role in the captive elephant population's inability to sustain itself. Out of 55 elephants born in captivity over the last 10 years, only 30 have survived. What's more, elephants tend to stop breeding much earlier in captivity, usually in their 40s, whereas in the wild, they often breed right up until their deaths.

    •  I was lucky enough (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to be allowed to visit the Performing Animal Welfare Society's elephant and tiger sanctuary in San Andreas, CA. normally they do not allow visitors, but once a month they do allow visitors for a fee, to help support the facility.

      African Elephants, tons of space for them to roam around in:


      Asian Elephants, some sleeping:


      They also have rescued tigers, many of these were rescued from a breeder who would sell them as pets!


      •  That must have been wonderful. (0+ / 0-)

        Great pictures. It must have been exciting. At least they have a modicum of freedom.

        Do you remember a segment on Nature about 2 female elephants who knew each other in a circus - Shirley and Jenny?  They were reunited at the sanctuaryn Tennessee after being separated for over 20 years. They recognized each other after all that time and became inseparable. The keepers weren't aware there was a previous relationship. Shirley was much older but they had formed a bond all those years ago. Unfortuntaely, Jenny has since died - I think it was 2006.

        I think of those 2 elephants whenever the topic is circuses or zoos.

        I found an update on PBS

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