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Time to Ban Circuses that Exploit Animals and Endanger Public Safety

By       Message William McMullin     Permalink
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The Ringling Bros. Circus is currently touring the Midwest.  I hope the local municaplities where the circus will be performing will pass ordinances banning circus acts that use exotic animals from performing.  

First, circuses are inherently cruel to exotic animals. It does not take rocket science to figure out wild animals belong in the wild. Elephants, a common animal kidnapped for the circus, roam up to 30 miles a day in large social herds in the wild. They have the freedom to bathe in mud holes, forage for food and live their own lives. In circuses, they spend their lives in confinement being carted around from town to town in all weather extremes. It is very saddening to think they are deprived of everything natural to them just to do a few tricks to entertain us.

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Ron Kagan, the director of the Detroit Zoo, speaks out against circuses. In his editorial in The Detroit Free Press -- ''Circus Entertainment Comes at the Expense of Animals, October 11th, 2002 -- he says, ''Living on the road, circus animals are not able to have either appropriate physical or social environments.'' He even made the compassionate decision to send his zoo's elephants to a sanctuary where they now have more room to roam and more natural climates.

Fear and pain are the training methods of circuses. An elephant's skin is so sensitive, he/she can feel even an insect bite. In circuses, they are beaten with a sharp metal pole often referred to as a ''bullhook.'' When they are hit with bullhooks with the force of a hard swing of a baseball bat, the elephants scream out in pain.

Federal laws do little to help animals in the circus. The Animal Welfare Act simply provides very minimal guidelines for animal care. Unfortunately, Ringling does not even follow these lax laws. There is an extensive list of Ringling's animal neglect and abuse on

If officials do not care about animals, I hope they will consider banning circuses for the sake of public safety. From years of stress, confinement and loneliness, elephants and the other animals used in circuses sometimes go berserk. Wild animals are unpredictable, especially during times of such mental anguish. Innocent spectators are put in danger during every circus performance.

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Circuses are already banned or severely restricted in other municipalities such as Quincy, Massachusetts and Honolulu. Let's bring modern circuses to the public that do not exploit animals.

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I am an environmental studies/business graduate from Western Michigan University.

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