If you’ve been to the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey
Circus in the last few years, you know that you have to run through a gauntlet
of animal rights protestors to get to the door. 
These people stand on the sidewalk in front of the venue, holding up gruesome
pictures and handing out pamphlets they call “information about the
circus.”  I told my girls not to take
anything those people tried to hand them. 
I guess it’s good practice for their future visits to family planning
clinics, where you have to bypass the Righteous Mob to get your yearly pap

The most disturbing thing about our trip to the circus today
was not the protestors, but the distressing realization that the circus
sucked.  It didn’t used to suck.  At our last circus excursion a couple of
years ago I walked out very well pleased. 

Today’s show was severely downsized.  They curtained off a third of the arena, and
they presented only one act at a time. 
The acts were all polished, perfect, and enjoyable to watch—but there
were fewer of them.  At every other
circus show I’ve been to, something has been going on all the time.  One act performs while the other rings are
prepared for upcoming acts.  But today, a
large video screen occupied one wall, and while the floor was prepared for the
next act, pre-recorded video crap appeared.

That’s heinous enough, but to make matters worse, the circus
responded to the constant onslaught of protests across the country by
broadcasting their own anti-protest propaganda. 
Cutesy cartoon elephants appeared onscreen to explain that while those
silly humans thought they were in charge, the elephants were really running the
show.  This was followed by a skit on the
floor in which a (real) elephant is literally waited on by clowns at a faux
café.  Then the cartoon elephants came
back and said that they weren’t really doing “tricks” when they marched in a
line holding each others’ tails and stood on their heads, that’s just what
elephants like to do.

Personally, I don’t have any ethical issues with performing
animals.  I doubt the circus routinely
mistreats their animals, simply because it would not be cost-effective to do
so.  Raising and training an elephant is
a very expensive proposition.  Just our small herd of cats have cost us thousands of dollars.  The hamster’s been pretty cheap, though.

Nevertheless, there is nothing “natural” about the behavior
of animals trained to perform tricks in an arena.  Being whapped upside the head with this b.s.
message during the show annoyed the heck out of me. 

The kids had a good time, and they look super-cute with
their rubber clown noses on, but we may have to find something else to do next
September, when the circus and the protestors come back to town.


19 thoughts on “

  1. I doubt if the elephants really enjoy standing on their heads.  I’ve never actually heard them complain… it’s just a feeling.  Can I have a picture of the girls with their rubber noses on?

  2. I almost took my oldest son to the Ringling Brothers circus, because he enjoyed it so much when he was little.  After reading your post, I’m glad I didn’t.  I wish everything didn’t have to be politicized to death.

  3. I haven’t ever been to a circus.. not that I have anything against one, just never have been. I love the zoo, though. What’s worse, caged or performing? Who knows.. either way, it isn’t natural, but what is anymore? I bet we’ll have animal voting rights in a few years. Which is fine, if a little strange.
    I don’t know that I wouldn’t ever go to the circus, I think I might like to experience one, just because, hey, I’ve never seen an elephant stand on it’s head, and that’s one thing everyone’s got to do before they die.
    Stuff like that is so child-centric, and it’s supposed to be, but, I also think that they might be propogating and exacerbating their problem by showing those little anti-protestation cartoons. How do we, as humans, know what animals are thinking? They might be doing the damage to themselves.
    Loved the comment about the pap smear, too. That’s so ridiculous. I made a shirt that says “I’m just here for the free condoms.” to wear when I go to the planned parenthood. Condoms are damn expensive!

  4. I don’t like the circus or the protesters. My husband took my kids to the circus in Pittsburg several years ago (I stayed home) and one of the protesters addressed my five year old daughter, saying something like “Don’t let your daddy take you to where they hurt animals.” It really upset her.

  5. Sounds like it may have been a not-so-nice experience. I was going to suggest the same thing la_faerie_joyeuse suggested. I’ve not been but from all I hear the shows are really wonderful. RYC: Thanks. It’s usually one out of twenty or so that’s good enough to keep.

  6. I’m with Daylily.  The protestors seem to address the kids directly, probably because they know that their nonsense won’t past muster with the past-fourth-grade set.  I hate it when people try to do my parenting for me.
    When we lived in Eugene the ‘righteous mob’ was pretty low key.  On any given morning there was a (silent) public prayer going on in the Women’s Clinic parking lot.  Much less confrontational and much more civil than the usual, but I suspect equally disconcerting for the clientele.  I always have my Pap smears done at my nurse midwife’s office to avoid the crowd.

  7. Who says I was hollaring???? Were you at my house while I was writing the post??? Whether someone writes in lower case or forgets and leaves the cap lock on, doesn’t mean they were hollaring. I’m sorry you took it as that, that was not my intent.

  8. I’ve seen some of the “off-duty” animals in a circus and found they were well pampered, compared to trying to ourtun the lioness on the savannah.  Still, the circus as we knew it is a dying, politically correct phenomenon.

  9. We had a similar issue when it came to training my lovebird. Granted it was on a much smaller scale, but I mentioned to my dad when he wanted to train her that she wasn’t a circus animal. Dad just told me that if she didn’t want to do the tricks, she wouldn’t do them, plus she was probably bored napping around the house all day.It’s a shame though..I’ve never been to the circus :(. My parents say I have, but I don’t think it counts if I was too young to remember.

  10. Ya know, I want to respect everyone’s right to protest everything, but darn it if it doesn’t sometimes just seem like we are the most easily offended people who ever lived. Sorry the circus was a disappointment. Lisa

  11. How strange.  We were at a Ringling Bros. performance just a few months ago and it was nothing like you described.  (Except for the ubiquitious protesters.) Maybe they’re having labor issues.

  12. I heard something on the news today that made me spit my coffee all over the windshield. Some animal rights activists are now proclaiming that we must stop calling all non-cat pets ‘K9-Americans’ instead of ‘dogs’. Okay, but that means I’ll have to call animal rights activists something else entirely. I’d tell you what it is, but I think you have minors reading your site and I don’t want to get in trouble for either contributing to the delinquency of a minor or corrupting the young.

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