Cruelty to Animals in Circuses

When the circus was invented in 1782 no one knew the horrible effect it would end up having on animals. Animals have been used in the circus since the very beginning, and have not stopped being used since. It started off with just big cats being used, but very quickly other animals were involved such as elephants, ostriches, donkeys, etc. All these animals are used to make money and in return are mistreated and given poor living conditions. Animals in circuses are often treated cruelly, as such circuses should not be allowed to use animals.

One reason that circuses should not be aloud to use animals is that the animals are physically mistreated by the caregivers who work for the circus. The workers for the circus like to beat and abuse the animals just because they don’t know how to do tricks that they shouldn’t even have to learn in the first place. An example that PETA uses is, “ Elephants are frequently beaten with bullhooks—heavy batons with a sharp metal hook on one end—sometimes until they bleed, in order to force them to perform dangerous, uncomfortable tricks, such as standing on their head or on a small pedestal” (PETA). This evidence talks about how badly animals are beaten when they are forced to perform strange tasks. They do these tricks only out of fear. Animals are not meant to perform such tasks, The stuff that they are forced to do does not make any sense to them in their head. It would be like if we forced a human to crawl on all 4’s, it’s just not a natural thing to expect them to do. Another way that animals are physically abused by the circus is the travelling conditions that they are put in. In a “Circus Cruelty”, an article written by “PAWS”, it says that “ Virtually 96 percent of their lives are spent in chains or cages, 11 months a year they travel over long distances in box cars with no climate control; sleeping, eating, and defecating in the same cage” (PAWS). Being kept in captivity like this is no way that any being should have to live. Imagine if a human was put in these conditions, we would call that cruel and inhumane. If the treatment and living conditions are not good enough for humans, than they should not be acceptable for animals. Just because they don’t have two thumbs and ten fingers does not mean that they don’t deserve the same basic rights as humans.

Another reason that animals should not be used in circuses is the negative mental effect that it has on them. While the animals are subject to much physical abuse they are also subject to mental abuse by the trainers and are not able to do anything about it, because they are in possession of malicious trainers that would harm them if they tried to make a move. This abuse is very similar to being put into an internment camp. The animals have no way to speak up for themselves, so this is why agencies like PETA are trying to give a voice to the unheard. It has been stated that ,”Animals in circuses become despondent and depressed, and most develop abnormal behavior patterns, including swaying, head-bobbing, and incessant pacing. Sometimes, they even harm themselves” (PETA). These habits that these animals have developed are not natural. They have only began these habits because they are bored and abused. And odds are that if you go into the wild or any of these animals natural habitats, you would not find any animals behaving like this. You could list off all of the mental abuse that these animals are exposed to forever, but one example that really stood out to me was from a website named “Last Chance for Animals”. In one of their many educational articles about animals well being, it says “Stealing infants from their mothers. An estimated 50 percent of the Asian elephants owned by Ringling were captured and torn from their families in the wild” (LCA). These types of actions from the circus should be punished by the law just based off of how cruel this is. Imagine the uproar that would happen from the community if this happened to dogs or cats. Just because the circus animals are not your “typical” type of pets, does not mean that ripping them from their mothers arms as an infant is okay, or somewhat defendable. Doing horrible things like this to the animals has a negative lifelong effect on the mental state of both the mother and the baby. Causing animals to lash out and harm themselves or others, which i’ll get to next.

Sadly, animals escaping or lashing out is a very common thing in circuses. But these actions are not their fault when you really think about it. They do this only because they are either scared, angry, or even both. In an article called “Advocacy of Animals”, written by L. Murray, it says” Recently, four zebras and three horses escaped from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Colorado and ran loose near a busy interstate highway for 30 minutes. This harrowing incident is just the latest in a long series of escapes and rampages that illustrate the dangers that animals in circuses pose to both themselves and the public” (Murray). This shows that forcing animals to travel with the circus is a serious hazard to people. In most cases they don’t end up harming anyone, but there’s always the risk, and that risk is not worth it. And that’s not even talking about how they can potentially hurt themselves. Another way that animals pose danger to the public is written in “Last Chance for Animals”, it says “Some circus elephants have been diagnosed with a human strain of Tuberculosis (TB) and have passed it on to their handlers. Elephants in circuses are predisposed to TB because of routine transport that often exposes them to other infected elephants and because of stress factors, including severe punishment, constant confinement, inconsistent water quality and food supply, and poor nutrition” (LCA). Showing that keeping elephants away from their natural habitat is not only very dangerous for themselves, it’s even more dangerous for people. Furthering my point as to how hazardous it is to haul them around the country.

Some people think that having animals in the circus is a good thing because it’s entertaining or a good education source. An example that the “Huff Post” uses talks about how people can learn from the animals, “Seeing the skill and intelligence of animals at close quarters can only foster admiration and respect for other species (McPherson 7)”. They are trying to make the argument that kids can learn from watching the animals in the circus. However, these kids are not learning how these animals truly act, because they’re not in their natural habitat. So the only thing these kids are learning are the unnatural habits and relationships that the animals have developed from being in the circus. Dismissing the ridiculous idea that circuses can be “educational”.

More research needs to be done but based off of this evidence, it is clear that animals do not belong in the circus, because of how cruelly they are treated. They are abused both physically and mentally, which is no way that any living being should have to live. The circus is proven to have no benefits to the animals, but still goes on because it is a way to make money.  

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