I am well aware of the fact that this article does not speak directly to the horses but it is because of the horses that it speaks directly to my heart and soul.
Years ago I worked with and trained wild animals to perform before audiences of tourists. I started with penguins, worked my way up through sea lions and finally graduated to working with whales and dolphins. Back then, it was the answer to my life’s goal and I reveled in the experience.
I even went so far as to participate in the capture of wild dolphins and once spent two days in a shallow tank trying to keep a new inmate from giving up and slipping under the waters to her death due to the painful depression induced by her capture and separation from family. She opened the door and cracked the foundation in my belief that we were doing a good thing and that our captives were ambassadors to the remaining wild creatures as they taught the dolphin/whale eating Japanese tourists that Cetaceans were intelligent, self-actualized beings.
That is all gone now, like dust in the wind or foam from a wave…gone forever.
We share this planet with thousands of different and alien beings; they all feel the same things (but perhaps in a different manner) and feelings that we do. They need to eat, drink, sleep, pro-create and protect their own. They all have families and they all deserve to live freely as they did prior to the upright ape’s arrival to the top of the food chain.
Often I feel that mankind is liken to a virus crawling all over a cell, the earth, consuming anything and everything it comes into contact with. Why would any “intelligent” galactic life form ever want to make contact with us. Not only do we fail in communicating with the other species that share this planet with us but we cannot even resist the urge to destroy and murder our own.
Let the other passengers on the Spaceship Earth live in peace while we allow compassion and love to rule our actions instead of greed and selfishness. It is a goal worth striving for and perhaps this story of the great elephants is a baby step forward.
If only…..” ~ R.T.
Barely five months ago, a spokesman for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus told a reporter flatly, “We can’t perform without the elephants.” For more than a century, the circus has touted its elephant herd as its piece de resistance, the climax to a dazzling spectacle of showmanship Ringling, and only Ringling, could deliver.
So, understandably, the circus’s announcement Thursday that it will instead phase out its elephant act by 2018 was a complete stunner, a game-changer that could someday lead to the demise of performing wild animal acts entirely in this country.
We could debate what prompted Feld Entertainment Chairman and CEO Kenneth Feld’s change of heart until nightfall. But his family acknowledged that the public’s discomfort with watching elephant tricks carried out to blaring music and under klieg lights played a role.
Americans are besotted with animals, and as more of us have come to realize what miserable lives circus elephants lead – separated from their mothers and forced to learn tricks at an early age, they’re chained in place and hauled thousands of miles across country – our dissatisfaction was starting to boil.
It was one thing to whale on elephants, tigers and bears to get them to perform back when we thought animals were unthinking beasts who felt no pain. Today, there’s no excuse: we know that elephants, especially, are intelligent beings capable of expressing humor, sympathy and grief — and most definitely able to feel the effects of a bullhook’s wallop. And we see how much happier and healthier elephants are when they can meander freely in the natural settings of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and the PAWS Sanctuary in California. (The Elephant Sanctuary’s “ele-cams” are a huge hit: www.elephants.com.)
So props to Ringling for lowering the curtain on those archaic elephant routines. But it’s not enough to stop there. Those fire-leaping tigers and that brand-new camel act they’ve rolled out need to be retired, too. The lives of those animals are no less wretched. The same goes for the smaller circuses that travel the country’s backroads with their own menageries.
The groundswell against animal exploitation is only going to grow, so the circus world could save itself continued headaches by getting ahead of the wave. Besides, a circus without animals isn’t as implausible as it sounds. Does anyone really believe today’s children are googly-eyed by dancing bears? At a circus I attended, the kids were too busy playing with their glo-sticks to even notice the animal acts. More than a dozen countries overseas have banned wild animals entirely from circuses and lo and behold: the show has gone on.
Carol Bradley is a former investigative newspaper reporter and the author of “Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top,” published last year by St. Martin’s Press. She lives in Great Falls, Montana. Follow her on Facebook (Carol Bradley author) and Twitter (@CarolDBradley). Her website is www.carolbradley.com.