The Show and its ugly backstory hidden from the public and audience (we all used to believe it as kids)
Are you a vegan or just someone who cares about animal well-being in general, especially already endangered species?
Well, Animal lovers and rights activists around the world have been engaged in decades of protest against the cruelty in circuses.
As a high school grad, I´ve myself worked at Cirque du Soleil, because they do not use any animal performers for entertaining the audience. Therefore this following came as a shock and surprise, but this is not about me, nevertheless very important to know and act upon.
The Crushed Hope: Closing Down Ringling Bros.
They sighed relief when one of the biggest players in the circus industry, Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus made an announcement in January this year about their permanent closure.
It was hoped by the Vegan community and the general public alike, that this would put an end to the mental trauma and physical agony of the captive animals from the clutches of the circus.
However: Deportation Plans
As it turns out, Feld Entertainment, the multi-billion dollar parent company behind Ringling has more hideous plans for the poor big cats. As per the inputs from the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Feld Entertainment is in the final process of applying for an Endangered Species Act permit to export the eight tigers to Germany.
The application will be submitted to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW), who have been accused of permitting such dubious exports in the past also without adequate detailed investigation of the real intentions of the applicant.
Conservation Of Endangered Species
As per the official requirements of USFW, the export can only be allowed if it is directly supporting the conservation of endangered species. In this present case, the notice from Ringling asserts that the export of the Tigers is aimed at promulgating the message of conserving the endangered species.
However, it does not require much investigation to understand the ulterior motives behind this deception. Handing over the animals to Zirkus Crone, the biggest European circus with a number of animal cruelty cases against itself, is nothing but purely an apathetic financial decision.
The ALDF stated that despite the obvious deceit in such cases, the USFW has permitted the applicants to export the endangered animals in the past also. Big businesses have made donations towards some USFW animal conservation programs and have affected exports of imperiled animals only for profits with no relation to the animal protection movement.
Consequencies: Living Conditions, Starvings & Deaths
If the export of tigers in the present case is also permitted, it will not just be a shame for the entire animal lovers’ community, it will also mean further endless atrocities for these poor speechless tigers.
Just like most of the circuses, the Ringling has been accused of various cases of mistreatment and cruelty on animals in the past decades. There have been cases of skeptical elephant deaths, starving of calves and poor living conditions for animals.
The Independent Investigation
An investigation was conducted by Jay Pratte, an activist with 25 years of animal training experience. He reported
that the tigers were packed inside small corrals and kept in unhygienic conditions causing physical as well as mental ailments like depression among the animals.
Tigers are by nature, solitary animals and therefore, lack of own space causes them to fight each other leading to injuries. Unnatural concrete floors give the tigers cracked paws and other foot and lower body scars.
You can perhaps get an idea of the torture on the animals in a circus from the following points:
(a) They are locked far away from their natural habitats. The small cage does not have any room, no water, and the surface is too hard for their comfort.
(b) They are beaten and starved to submission to obey the ring master and perform uncomfortable and painful acts repeatedly throughout their captive lives.
(c) They do not get proper medical attention when they get injured while performing or while in captivity.
The animals are meted out such inhumane treatment for no fault of theirs and abused to the extreme levels which the people have now started to understand. More and more people are joining the movement to free the animals from the captivity of the circuses.
The animal rights activists have been giving a hard time to the Ringling; the public awareness has raised to the point that Feld Entertainment got hurt financially due to people banning the circus.
Feld’s decision to close down the circus was a direct result of this public movement. However, if the tigers are not handed over to a reputable sanctuary, but allowed to be exported to Germany for induction into another ruthless circus, then the complete efforts of the public will be wasted.
Why This Conservation Center Is NOT A Solution
Under the pressure from the vegan food community as well as general animals rights activists, Ringling had retired its elephants and transferred them to their Florida Elephant Conservation Center.
This was also opposed by the activists as the lives of the elephants in the Florida base was doubtful to improve because this was the breeding and training ground for the Ringling’s elephants. However, the fate of the tigers seems to be taking a much more gloomy turn.
HOw ALDF Is Fighting Back
As The Dodo reports, The ALDF has strongly opposed the proposed step of Feld Entertainment to sell away the poor tigers to the German counterpart under the pretext of animal conservation. It has intimated that it will not allow the export and will go to any level to stop the transfer.
It has highlighted that this export will not lead to any improvement in the lives of the eight cats as there are cases of animals suffering from mental distress and arthritis due to atrocious living conditions in Zirkus Crone also.
The transfer will also not help in any way the animal conservation movement as it is amply evident from past experience that animals performing in a circus do not spread any sort of awareness among the people.
Waking Up The (Vegan) Public: Saving The Eight Brave Tigers
It is essential that animal-friendly circles like vegans as well as the general public rise to the occasion and make it known to the environment that such inhumane treatment of the animals will not be tolerated.
It should come out loud and clear that the animals need to be retired to reputable sanctuaries, where they get to live a life that they deserve.
The voice of the public can make an impact as the applicant’s request will be kept open for comments from people for the next 30 days. So make yourself counted towards the benevolent cause and effect a change in the lives of the eight captive tigers.
Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF stated that the public is now enlightened and awake to the welfare of the animals. More and more people are now joining the motion to protect the animals from atrocities from circuses.
This rise in public awareness about the animal rights has led to the closure of Ringling Bros. The animals have spent almost their entire lives in captivity and have been made to perform under fear of punishment.
that the circus is closing, the animals deserve to retire to a more comfortable abode. You can certainly help the cause and stop the Tigers from being transported to Germany to get enslaved yet again in another circus.
You need to send across your comments to USFW indicating your opinion about the grant of permission to Feld Entertainment for the export.
The Negative Trend: Other Bad Examples Worldwide
Helpless Bear Kicked Between the Legs on Refusing to Perform. Even as the audience shouted to stop the performance, the trainer got upset at the bear as it refused to perform.
What resulted thereafter not only shocked the audience present, but also the entire world as the recording of the event went viral on the social media. China claims to have closed down all animal performances in 2011.
However, it is no hidden fact that the performances are still happening. In one such routine performance at a Chinese zoo, last week, a bear was crossing barricades while standing on his two hind legs.
The handler was basking in the limelight, but then the bear tripped a barrier due to tiredness. The trainer got agitated by the incident and kicked the bear, which the audience did not like and some of the audience started shouting and telling the trainer not to kick the bear.
The video shot by a member of the audience shows the arrogant trainer kicking the bear between his legs ignoring the shouts from the audience. It can be heard in the background that the bear has already been kicked number of times before the recording commenced.
The kicking continues as the bear gets booted continuously while performing a stunt on the gymnastic rings until he lifts his feet off the ground.
It does not end there, as the bear is tormented by the unsparing tamer who is seen hitting the bear in his face with a stick when the helpless animal is trying to balance in an upright standing position on a big ball.
The appalling incident occurred during a regular circus-like performance in China’s Fujian province zoo, where the authorities have responded by suspending the bear handler.
As a result:
The enraged public protest, the officials have also committed to making constructive changes in the training and handling procedures. The officials have stated that adequate care will be taken from their side to avoid any such activities happening in future.
Other Hair Raising Incidents. Fujian is just another case of in which animals have been treated in an atrocious manner. A 14-year-old bear cub was recently manhandled in front of a crowd by Tim Stark, owner of the Wildlife in Need, a notorious Indiana-based zoo.
Another video that became viral on the net had shocking sights of trainers dragging a bear cub on the concrete floor as he showed reluctance in performing at a park. A tiger was doped and tied down at a circus in Yiyang, China so that children could sit on it for a photo.
On the other hand, humans continue to showcase zero interests towards these beautiful creatures incident after another, there was a video that surfaced which surprised the world regarding this very topic we are trying to comprehend here.
The tiger pulled the handler’s whip so fiercely that it got imbalanced and fell off the stage. As a consequence, the other cats broke out of the formation and rushed towards their colleague to save it from the likely punishment from the trainer.
The cats did this protective act risking punishment for themselves even as the tamer threatened to whip them.
Overall Scenario: Atrocities From Tigers, To Lions, To Bears
Whereas China has already banned any kind of performances by animals in 2011, there were still over 39% safari parks and zoos in China that displayed animal performances till last year. A secret investigation conducted by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in China in 2015 yielded shocking information.
It stated that there were hundreds of animals including tigers, lions, and dogs caged in filthy and inhospitable corrals in these facilities. They were even kept devoid of adequate healthy food and drinking water.
To make one point clear here. The Chinese are not singles out by no means. Other countries, as displayed above, from the USA to Germany, are with varying degree participating in harming and to some extend helping to extinguish precious and beautiful creatures for entertainment, consumerism, and money – how cruel!
Is There Any Hope?
However, the uproar of young and adult people, veganism organizations and so on such videos is heartening to see. The concern and passion for the welfare of the animals are increasing among the people around the world.
What is more encouraging is that this passion is getting expressed in an effective manner leading to improvement in the condition of the endangered caspian, Siberian, Sumatran, and Charismatic Megafauna as well as others.
The public is openly coming out against the performance of animals. As per Animals Asia, the social media is playing a vital role in this entire movement.
Supporting The Just Cause: Two Options To Take Right Now
The Director for Welfare of Animals at the society, Dave Neale states that the public hates all cruelty against the animals and are coming out in the open to support animal welfare.
Their efforts are showing fruits as the atrocities on animals are on the decrease and this is worth celebrating. Future generations, yours and my children deserve a plentiful, rich biodiversity with not just with healthy, tasty foods, but harmless farming conditions and cruelty-free life for humans and other species, right?
If this feeling prevails in the environment and percolates to all sections of the society resonating into effective actions, the time is not far when the performing animals will become a thing of the past.
What Can I Do To Save These Big Cats & Others?
You can make it happen by voicing your support below, commenting, liking our page on facebook here and sharing this important piece and be part of history where we stopped animal circus because it is just!
You can even donate for the improvement of these helpless animals through agencies like PETA or World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF).