Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Problems with Animal Circuses

Years ago I became a supporter of PETA because I found out they work to end the misery of animals in circuses. How could anyone have a problem with something as simple as a circus? Here is a letter to the local Kiwanis Club that is sponsoring a circus as a fundraiser that outlines some of my concerns. Some of the content comes directly from PETA's content that they provide. It is a great resource, please do check it out!!

I am writing to ask that you consider ending circuses that use animal acts, such as the Kelly Miller Circus, for your fundraising purposes. While I understand it is meant as a fundraiser, there is nothing "fun" about the mistreatment animals living in the circus are forced to endure. Your organization is an admirable one and serves the community well. I am asking that you consider what it is that you are actually promoting before you lend your credible name to these events.

According to documentation compiled provided by PETA, “Kelly Miller Circus has failed to meet minimal federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibition as established in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Kelly Miller Circus for failure to handle animals in a manner that is safe for the animals and the public, failure to provide veterinary records, and failure to provide structurally sound enclosures. Kelly Miller Circus leases animals from its sister circus, Carson & Barnes.” According to the documentation compiled by PETA, “The Carson & Barnes Circus animal care director was videotaped viciously attacking elephants with a bullhook, shocking elephants with an electric prod, and instructing trainers to embed sharp, metal hooks into the elephants’ flesh until the elephants scream in pain.”

(Ref: and )

Child development experts warn that the circus can be harmful to our children. Dr. Melvin Levine, director of the Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning, says that when children watch animals being hit—such as when elephants are jabbed in the sensitive skin behind their ears or in the tender area under their chins with sharp, heavy bullhooks—their impressionable young minds are at risk. Children see this device, as well as electric prods, whips, and heavy sticks being used to control animals, and come to believe that it is acceptable to humiliate or physically intimidate, even to injure animals.

Additionally, most people do not realize that when circuses set up camp in our town, they bring with them transient workers picked up on the road—often criminals.

Does this sound like it will put the “fun” in the Kiwanis fundraiser? I am not interested in shocking anyone, and I understand people think this antiquated form of entertainment is amusing on some basic level. But, circuses were originally created to travel from place to place to entertain people. Perhaps they haven’t noticed but we have an abundance of animal and family friendly activities to pursue on any given day. What is wrong with a human circus option, similar to the Cirque de Soleil productions? I would be pleased to help you brainstorm other ideas in the future to assist in your fundraising efforts.

Circuses are cruel. They teach children that animal cruelty is acceptable, which is a danger to their development, and they are a risk to the safety and well-being of the community.

Thank you for your consideration.

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