As some of you may already know, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is back at George Mason University. It is advertised as the “Greatest Show on Earth,” however, one thing that it doesn’t advertise is the accusations of animal cruelty that groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals constantly make.
Let me start by saying that I’m not some hippie environmentalist who thinks that we should scrap all our technology and return to being one with Mother Earth.
That’s not me at all. What does bother me, however, is when people abuse animals for purposes of mere entertainment.
That makes me feel sick.
According to PETA, Ringling teaches their animals to do tricks by beating them and putting them through abusive, torturous training.
Elephants are trained to do their tricks through the use of instruments called bullhooks, training tools that, according to PETA, “look like fire pokers.”
One manner in which they train baby elephants is by forcing them into unusual positions (such as forcing them to stand on their high legs on a platform), hitting them all over their bodies with the aforementioned bullhook and then using electric prods.
The impact on the animal’s well-being is intense, and it is not unusual for animals to die or become injured by this type of mistreatment.
Speaking of deaths, in 2004, a lion died of heatstroke as Ringling Bros. crossed the Mojave Desert, and they euthanized an 8-month-old baby elephant which fractured its hind legs doing a stunt that trainers forced it to do.
Since 2000, the United States Department of Agriculture has cited Ringling Bros. for violations including improper handling of dangerous animals, unsanitary feeding practices and causing trauma and physical harm to two elephants.
Obviously information from PETA must always be taken with a grain of salt, but the information from the USDA tells no lies: Ringling Bros. have a history of mistreating its animals.
But what really gets me mad is not only are the Ringling Bros. mistreating animals, they are doing it here at Mason.
Aren’t we the school whose goal is to be environmentally friendly? Aren’t we the ones who generate almost no trash at Southside so that we can protect nature?
Doesn’t it seem a tad bit hypocritical that we are so pro-environment, yet we are directly supporting people who routinely harm animals that live on the same Earth that we are trying to protect?
The sad thing is most people don’t even care.
They don’t care about any of the deaths that I mentioned or the countless more that have occurred. Instead, all they want to do is be entertained.
Fine. They can do whatever they want. But I will not be supporting this circus in any way, shape or form.
They treat animals horribly, and despite this fact, people still go watch their shows and support them.
I’m not asking people to change their lifestyle or become an animal rights activist; I’m asking them to see that the practices of Ringling Bros. are just plain wrong and we should be working for change.
You can say that the circus is coming to Mason, but to me, it feels more like the house of horrors.