As Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus visits the Bay Area in September, the Marin Humane Society asks its supporters to help stop the unquestionable suffering of animals in circuses by refusing to support Ringling Bros. and other traveling animal circuses, and by encouraging others to do the same.
Cruel Confinement – Animals spend their lives in cages and chains. Did you know that circus animals spend, on average, over 90% of their lives in chains or cages? Most animal circuses, including Ringling Bros., tour the country for about 11 months each year. Ringling's own records show that animals can be chained for up to 60 to 100 hours straight while touring.Such severe confinement is physically and mentally damaging.
Elephants are not the only circus animals suffering. Tigers and lions, for example, live in cages that meet the minimum legal requirements for confinement and are barely big enough for the cats to stand up and turn around. The most common mode of transportation is by boxcar or trailers that are poorly ventilated with temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees.
In 2004, Clyde, a young Ringling elephant, died due to heatstroke and dehydration while traveling with the circus through the Mohave Desert. Since Clyde's horrific death, two Ringling tigers injured themselves while trying to escape an overheated box car. Sadly, these are not isolated incidents.
Painful Training - Circus Animals perform through fear and pain. Did you know that most performing animals begin isolating, grueling, fear-based training at a very young age? Wild animals do not ride bikes, dance in conga lines, or jump through flaming hoops. To coerce animals into these unnatural and confusing tricks, trainers rely on fear, domination, and physical abuse. Whips, chains, electric prods, pokers, and tight muzzles are just a few “tools of the trade.”Faced with growing public concern for animal welfare, Ringling recently announced a plan to retire its elephants by 2018. Although an enormous victory for elephants, sadly, lions, tigers, bears, zebras and other exotic animals will continue to travel with the circus and be subjected to cruel and unnatural training methods.
Public Safety Concerns - When animals suffer, people suffer. Did you know that there have been hundreds of dangerous incidents involving circus animals, including elephants breaking free and running through streets, attacking people, destroying buildings, and killing or injuring handlers? Animal deaths, human deaths, USDA citations, fines, dangerous incidents, and lawsuits are just some of the unfortunate consequences of parading wild and traumatized animals around a public audience.
In 1994, for example, an elephant named Tyke killed her trainer and injured 12 spectators before being gunned down in the streets of Honolulu. She was shot almost 100 times. In 1992, an officer was forced to shoot and kill Janet, an elephant who charged out of the Great American Circus arena with five children on her back.
The risk of transferable disease is also concerning. Circus elephants, for instance, have been diagnosed with a human strain of tuberculosis, which can spread to other animals and people.
The bottom line is that the animals forced to perform in circuses are highly intelligent beings who experience enormous suffering in traveling acts, and no compassionate Californian should want to pay to support this type of entertainment. Until traveling acts are free of animals, thank you for joining MHS and other California humane organizations in saying "no" to animal circuses! We believe that the well-being of animals should never be compromised for
the purpose of entertainment. MHS is opposed to the use of animals in any
form of entertainment (including public performances, filming, photographic and
print media) where animals will be victims of cruelty, harassment, or where
pain or stress to the animals is involved.
There are many wonderful circuses that do not use and/or abuse animals, such as Cirque du Soleil, and they are just as exciting and entertaining, if not more so, than those that do. The public is strongly urged to seek entertainment venues that don’t use animal performers.