The U.S. House of Representatives just introduced a bill, HR 3359, to ban wild animals from performing in circuses. This bill just makes common sense. Wild animals should be in the wild. Let's take elephants, a common animal in the circus, for instance. In the wild, elephants roam up to 30 miles per day in large social herds. They have the freedom to forage for food, bathe in mud holes, and socialize with their friends and families. In circuses, animals are denied everything natural to them and lead miserable existences. Elephants are shackled and confined as they travel nonstop from town to town. They cannot even take a single step. The only time they're released from their confinement is when they have to perform unnatural "tricks" for us.
Animals are beaten with sharp metal rods to train them. The poor elephants, whose skin is so sensitive they can even feel an insect bite, wail out in pain when beaten. A circus trainer with Cole Bros. Circus once told other trainers, "Hurt "em! Make "em scream! " Sink that hook into "em " When you hear that screaming, then you know you got their attention!" [Video footage is viewable at circuses.com]. USDA inspection reports at circuses.com show many circuses do not even meet the very minimal animal care standards of the Animal Welfare Act.
Ron Kagan, the director of the Detroit Zoo, agrees the
circus life is no life for wild animals.
In his editorial in The Detroit
Free Press -- "Circus Entertainment Comes at the Expense of Animals," October
11th, 2002 -- Kagan says, "Living on the road, circus animals are not able to
have either appropriate physical or social environments."
Circuses are an endangerment to public safety. After years of mental abuse from living such unnatural lives and physical abuse from the training sessions, elephants--and other wild animals--go berserk. Retired Florida Police Officer Blayne Doyle now speaks out against circuses after he had to shoot 47 rounds of gunfire into Janet, an 8,000-pound rampaging elephant, to death while she was carrying children on her back. He says, "I think these elephants are trying to tell us that " circuses are not what God created them for. But we have not been listening." ["Elephants Pose Giant Dangers", LA Times, October 11, 1994]. Many people have been injured or killed due to rampaging animals in the circus.
Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Israel, India, Costa Rica, over 200 communities in the U.K., and over 25 communities in the U.S. are just a few geographic areas that have banned or restricted wild animals from performing in circuses. Today, there are many circuses that only use willing, human performers such as Cirque Du Soleil we can support.