The GREEN JOURNAL AU

Human-Earth Relations and Sustainability – Australia and the Pacific

The GREEN JOURNAL AU

Circuses without elephants

Gigantic elephants are one of the highlights of the show. (PHoto: Supplied)

Gigantic elephants are one of the highlights of the show. (PHoto: Supplied)When the elephants are gone, The Greatest Show on Earth will never be the same again.

When the elephants are gone, The Greatest Show on Earth will never be the same again.

Animal lovers worldwide welcomed the recent announcement of Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, to end elephant circuses by 2018.  The company said 13 elephants will be finally off the road by then.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is pleased, but says it is not enough. PETA said the news is “wonderful”  but the elephants in captivity cannot wait for another three years as they are already suffering from arthritis and tuberculosis.

PETA US has campaigned for 35 years against Ringling’s abuses of elephants.

“If Ringling are really telling the truth about ending this horror, today will be a day to pop the champagne corks and rejoice,” PETA US said.

Behind the scenes, elephants undergo extreme pain and suffering to learn the tricks of the show. (Photo: Supplied)

Behind the scenes, elephants undergo extreme pain and suffering to learn the tricks of the show. (Photo: Supplied)

PETA US held several protests and has published video exposés, powerful ad campaigns and letters from supporters over the years. It documented Ringling’s treatment of animals on video, and released photos of violent training of baby elephants.  Investigators and whistleblowers have repeatedly documented the extreme abuse of animals that occured everyday.

PETA insists the animals have to be freed now:

Three years is too long for a mother elephant separated from her calf. It’s too long for a baby elephant beaten with a bullhook. It’s too long for an animal who would roam up to 48 kilometres a day in the wild but who is instead kept in shackles. We need to get these elephants off the road and out of boxcars today!

CNN’s Todd Leopold wrote a piece looking at the future of circuses without elephants. He notes that elephants are usually the stars of the parade when circuses come to town, citing a university professor. The fact is animal circuses have become a sunset industry and the elephants are saying goodbye. Thirty countries around the world have already banned the use of exotic or all animals in circuses. People’s attitude towards the plight of animals in circuses has also been increasingly heard.

The Ringling Brothers Circus was founded in the United States in 1884 by five of the seven Ringling Brothers. Photo of trains and elephants.  Pic: Wikipedia

The Ringling Brothers Circus was founded in the United States in 1884 by five of the seven Ringling Brothers. Photo of trains and elephants. Pic: Wikipedia

Many other countries have also been working on legislation to follow suit. The UK government had suggested the total ban of its wild animals in circuses by 2015. The government committee said wild animal circuses have become a sunset industry.

PETA Australia said this “is a sure indicator that we’re moving closer to an end to the abuse of animals by cruel circuses around the globe.”

Related Story HERE.

Animals Defenders International (ADI), meanwhile, wants Ringlings to extend phasing out all wild animals in traveling circuses and for other circuses in the US to follow suit.

Jan Creamer, ADI President, said ADI is pleased to hear of the announcement after decades of exposing the suffering of animals in circuses behind the scenes.

The evidence is clear that in the circumstances of a traveling show, it is not possible to provide these animals with the environment and facilities they need to maintain health and well-being. The public is increasingly educated about the needs of other species and does not like to see them suffer for a few minutes of entertainment.

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PETA lauds India, UK and the finale of animal circus

Baby boomers and Gen Xs may remember the fond memories of going to the circus to see elephants, lions, and bears do their tricks. Gone are those days and, now, new generations may never see such entertainment again. Animal activists say the industry has to close shop soon.

Animal advocates worldwide are crying “enough!” and are calling for a more compassionate world where animals must be treated more sensibly — without violence, pain, and suffering.

Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson promote their movie, Water for Elephants, in Sydney.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Australia lauds the landmark victories of UK and India, which announced the ban of exotic circus animals.

The UK Government recommended the total ban of wild animals in circuses by 2015, and further review on the classification of circus animals will continue. The government committee said wild animal circuses have become a sunset industry. PETA Australia said this “is a sure indicator that we’re moving closer to an end to the abuse of animals by cruel circuses around the globe.”

A scene from the box office hit, Water for Elephants

Earlier this year, PETA India and Animal Rahat released the results of a nine-month undercover investigation of more than a dozen circuses that travelled across India. PETA Australia described the findings as “shocking”.

Authorised by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the investigation documented cruelty to elephants. According to the AWBI report, many of the circus operators kept elephants in lamentable conditions: almost constantly chained, routinely and violently abused with bull hooks and other weapons. The Board has produced photographs of animals with open wounds, eye and foot conditions, and other severe medical problems.

The report added that trainers were sometimes drunk while interacting with the animals, and none of the circuses had permanent full-time veterinarians present on the days of inspection as required by Indian law.

An elephant is getting ready to perform at an Indian circus. (Photo: AFP/ News Ltd)

Following headlines of abuse around the world and pressure from animal rights groups, the AWBI confirmed it has “decided to stop registration of elephants for performance … in view of huge cruelties and abuse”. PETA India said this is a move that will effectively mean an end to the captivity of elephants in India’s circuses. It also indicate support for an eventual ban on the use of all animals in circuses in India.

The AWBI is now preparing to seize old and injured elephants named in PETA India’s report for possible rehabilitation.

“This tremendous victory for elephants in India – along with the recent British decision to ban all wild animals in circuses by 2015 – is a sure indicator that we’re moving closer to an end to the abuse of animals by cruel circuses around the globe,” PETA Australia said.

In Australia, there is a strong advocacy against entertainment animals, both nationwide and all across states. One of the studies on Australia’s performing arts industry also confirmed that traditional circuses are part of the dying nomadic settlers’ industry.  ”Australia’s last nomadic settler community and the only travelling entertainment continued its cultural role unabated for over 150 years”, the study said. However, it is time for the industry to give way to the rise of animal activism, as well as to the changes in financial, social and environmental conditions of the time.

Part of the activism is caused by a list of incidents involving Australian circus animals as well as sad tales of elephants in circuses around the world.

At the forefront of the advocacy also include: Animals Australia; Human Society International Australia; RSCPA (Victoria) and other states; and Animal Justice Party, to name a few.

Blog Link: The Green Journal at Asian Correspondent

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