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Animals in circuses spend up to 11 months of the year traveling. For thousands of hours, over long distances, they may be chained, transported in vehicles that lack climate control, and forced to stand or lie in their own waste. Performing animals such as elephants, lions, and tigers endure years of physical and psychological suffering in traveling acts.

Banning Big-Top Brutality

by Dr. Zakk Flash

NORMAN — Editor, The Norman Transcript:

The recent Carson & Barnes Circus in Norman should have never happened.

Animals in circuses spend up to 11 months of the year traveling. For thousands of hours, over long distances, they may be chained, transported in vehicles that lack climate control, and forced to stand or lie in their own waste. Performing animals such as elephants, lions, and tigers endure years of physical and psychological suffering in traveling acts.

Bears, elephants, tigers, and other animals do not voluntarily ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls, or jump through rings of fire. They don't perform these and other difficult tricks because they want to; they perform them because they're afraid of what will happen if they don't. Standard circus industry practice is to use bullhooks and other objects to poke, prod, strike, shock, and hit animals in order to "train" them — all for a few moments of human amusement.

I ask the City of Norman to adopt the following ordinance, one I've adapted from one passed in 2010 by Somerville, MA:

Display of Non-Domesticated Animals

(a) No living non-domesticated animals shall be displayed for public entertainment or amusement in circuses, carnivals or other similar entities on property owned by the City of Norman, on city-owned property under lease, or on private property. As used in this paragraph, “displayed” shall include, but is not limited to, animal acts and performances, animal rides and competitive animal races.

(b) This ordinance shall not apply to domestic animals including, but not limited to, dogs, cats, horses, donkeys and farm animals, except that no domestic animal shall be used in competitive animal races.

(c) This ordinance shall not apply to exhibits deemed educational by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

(d) Violations of this ordinance are subject to penalties. Each consecutive day that a violation exists shall be considered a separate offense.

We applaud trapeze artists, jugglers, clowns, tightrope walkers, and acrobats, but leave animals in peace.
___________________

Dr. Zakk Flash is an anarchist political writer, radical community activist, and editor of the Central Oklahoma Black/Red Alliance (COBRA). He lives in Norman, Oklahoma.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Agree completely (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lonely Texan, blue91

    Went to a circus when I was 6.  Seeing those wonderful animals caged up, the lion tamer with his whip, etc.

    All I could do was cry. Hated it, and have never been back, and never took my child to a circus.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 12:34:55 PM PDT

  •  The life of a circus animal is one of abuse and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lonely Texan, blue91

    cruelty. Big Cat Rescue is an organization that takes animals that would be euthanized from zoos and private individuals who raised great cats and couldn't handle them when they matured. The stories of the rescued great cats is heart-rending. They suffer greatly in circuses, zoos and private collections.

    change.org mounted a mission to have the USDA ban the use of elephants in circuses. The Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus has been cited numerous times for abuses of elephants.

    From the complaint:

    Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have a long history of abusing animals, especially elephants. At least 26 of the circus’s elephants, including four babies, have died since 1996. Elephants are often whipped or prodded with sharp billhooks.
    The life of a circus animal, especially the wild animals, is cruel and inhumane and I hope eventually our society matures to the point where such practices cease.

    Thanks for this diary. I hope many will see it.

    You can't go back and rewrite your past, but you can use your past to create your future. ~ Ray Lewis

    by 4Freedom on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 12:35:03 PM PDT

  •  Canine agility and similar (0+ / 0-)

    Canine agility (and similar sports such as lure coursing) could be considered a competitive animal race.  For those not familiar with it, it consists of dogs time trialing (actually, both time and faults) through an obstacle course, working with their handlers.  The obstacle course consists of things like A-frames (up and over), jumps, slaloms, tunnels, and such.  Since the handler is not allowed to touch the dog or the obstacles, the dog does not get a practice run, and courses can vary considerably in layout, communication is done through hand, body, verbal signals.  It appears to be a tremendous amount of fun for both the dogs and the people involved.

    While it's not a race in the same sense as a track race, meeting the qualifying time is an essential part of the sport.  I would just want to be certain that this kind of ordinance wouldn't inadvertently ban agility.

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