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Abuse Under The Big Top Essay

1536 words - 7 pages

Humans have always been enamored by the beauty and majesty of the wild creatures of the Earth; Asian elephants, the big cats of Africa, and of course the adorable monkeys, apes, and chimpanzees. Capitalizing on the public’s love for these animals, entrepreneurs and business moguls have captured some of these creatures and allowed people to buy an up close encounter with the wild beasts of the world. Some have even trained these beasts to perform tricks for the pleasure of the audience. It is a common scene in the world today for families to spend the weekend at the circus or the zoo, peering in at the lives of the wild animals by whom people are so captivated. However, when adults plan a fun, family outing at these entertainment venues, they may not realize the abuse and neglect they are supporting by doing so. The vast majority are naïve to the horrors lurking under the big top once the crowds have dispersed. The hidden truth, is that wild animals are torn from their families, abused and neglected, and live lives far from what was naturally intended; all this for the love of money, and due to corruption and secrets, they most often get away with it.
Circuses spend an average of 48 weeks a year traveling and performing for audiences. Circus animals spend approximately 95% of their lives caged or chained. Elephants in the Ringling Bros. circus, a division of Feld Entertainment, for instance, often spend up to 100 hours straight in chains, as revealed by Ringling’s own documents (Circuses). Their big cats are crammed into crates, hardly able to move, for extended periods of time. Though Ringling boasts that their train cars are specially designed for the needs of their animals, the records show otherwise. In 2004, a young Ringling lion named Clyde died in a crowded, poorly ventilated boxcar while crossing the desert on his way to yet another show (Circuses). Notable English author, Benjamin Zephaniah, related animals confined for entertainment to human injustices people around the world have fought against in the past when he said, “Because today’s victims of tyranny are unable to speak for themselves, it is up to people of principle to speak out for them. Animals’ lives are as important to them as ours are to us. We must stand up for them, as good people from other eras stood up or even risked their own lives in order to defend children from sweatshops and women’s right to vote and fight against massacres of entire groups of people and other acts of violence” (Benjamin).
While it is a federal requirement for sick or injured animals to receive medical care and approval by a veterinarian before performing (Cruelest), that is not always the case. “The show must go on”, as the old adage goes, even if that means forcing the star to perform tricks while gravely ill. In 1998, a major incident occurred in the fight for animal rights. Kenny, a three year-old Asian elephant owned by the Ringling Bros. circus, became lethargic and...

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