Circus Animals: Be Kind to Every Kind

Mattea Vecera, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Early this week while scrolling through Twitter, I came across an extremely disturbing video of multiple lions attacking a circus trainer during a performance. This brought up a discussion about the ethical use of animals in circuses.

In circuses, animals such as tigers and lions are often forced to live in tiny, cramped cages. This strips these wild animals of their ability to fulfill basic needs of a wild animal, such as the ability to exercise, hunt, roam, play and socialize. The only break they get from these cages are during performances, where they are forced to do things such as stand on small pedestals, jump over each other, walk across high platforms, stand on their hind legs, jump through flaming hoops, and more. If they do not perform the stunts correctly, they are subject to whippings and getting sprayed with water in front of the loud audience.

However, this does not relate only to lions and tigers. Depending on the circus, other animals such as elephants, giraffes, horses, monkeys, bears, kangaroo and many more are forced into similar performances and living conditions.

Another recent viral video shows a tired elephant being forced to stand on its front two legs on a high pedestal, and having to repeat the act multiple times after not being able get its hind legs up high enough in the air for the circus trainer’s liking. After finishing the act, the elephant begins to walk down from the pedestal, but loses its balance. The elephant then falls off and lands on its side, nearly falling into the audience.

In 2008, Wageningen University in the Netherlands conducted an investigation into the welfare of circus animals. These issues, among others, were found: 71% of the observed animals had medical problems, lions spend on average 98% of their time indoors, elephants are shackled in chains for an average of 17 hours per day, tigers are terrified of fire but are still forced to jump through fire rings, and since 1990 there have been over 123 cases of lion attacks at circuses.

I believe that animals do not belong in the circus, and they should not be trained to do unnatural things for the purpose of human entertainment. Wild animals belong in the wild. They should not be kept in enclosures or trained for pleasure.

Traveling circuses try to advertise a fun time for the family, but this clearly isn’t a fun time for those animals involved. Circuses, along with zoos and aquariums, are profiting from enslaving and imprisoning animals, and, in turn, normalizing animal cruelty.

You can help fight against this by not supporting any of these institutions, boycotting them altogether. Use your voice to show circus promoters that animal abuse is not entertainment. You can pledge to only support circuses that do not involve animals, but instead talented and willing human performers.

Don’t forget: be kind to every kind.