Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Elephant in the Room

You may receive a call in the next few days from a telemarketer asking you to buy tickets to the circus for underprivileged kids. Faced with a drop in ticket sales from paying customers no longer willing to show their children the results of cruel training on wild animals, this new business model preys on our concern for children. 

This new business model supports an outdated and cruel industry. In August, once again, the circus will be dragging elephants along. As every year, they’ll be telling our community that the elephants love performing, are trained humanely, and are treated like kings. They will tell you these are “domestic elephants”. Don’t believe it.

There is no such thing as a domestic elephant. Domestic animals have been bred over thousands of generations to enhance physical or behavioural attributes such as docility, reliability and predictability. Circus animals have been trained to do tricks, but they still remain wild and are inherently unpredictable.

The principal training “tool” for elephants is an ankah. It is used in two ways: The sharp pointed hook is used to inflict pain or to pull on the delicate areas of the elephant’s skin. The blunt end is used to beat uncooperative elephants. In addition to the ankah, other “tools” are employed, including whips, electrical prods, baseball bats and metal pipes.

After training, animals in entertainment can look forward to lives trapped in unnaturally small spaces. Between shows, animals that would naturally migrate tens of kilometres a day, wait in leg irons for their next performance.

The circus will tell you that the OHS inspects them. This, at least, is true. However, our inspection is limited to immediate distress as defined by current highly inadequate legislation. 

Some have argued that these acts teach us about the natural world. There is nothing natural about an elephant in a skirt trying to balance on a ball. It merely demonstrates, to children especially, that dominating and exploiting animals is acceptable.

The time of exotic animal circuses is over. Please take a small step to end animal suffering by saying no to supporting them. If you wouldn't go, and you wouldn't take your children, don't send others.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director
Bruce Roney
Executive Director
Bruce Roney
Executive Director
Bruce Roney
Executive Director

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