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Ethical Obligations To Circus Animals Essay

1000 words - 4 pages

Ultimately, it is this psychological harm and the aforementioned sentience of animals which, in theory, mandates that humans do have an ethical obligation to circus animals that is largely unfilled in modern contemporary society. A survey commissioned by the Associated Press concluded that in excess of 70% of the American population believe that not only should animals be afforded ethical rights, but that these rights should be just as important as the ethical rights given to humans (Wilson 2004, p.18). Nussbaum (2006, p.6) further argues for the ethical rights of animals, positing that, for a truly just global society to exist, respecting the ethical integrity of animals is vital. She ...view middle of the document...

Indeed, the situation would be morally and psychologically intolerable if we gave both sets of values equal weight. But we do not.” Serpell (1986) poignantly acknowledges the paradox wherein we give far more weight to the ethical treatment of other humans, than to the ethical treatment of animals, and in doing so largely neglect to aptly fulfil the needs, and uphold the rights, of these animals. In essence, if we were to treat humans in the same way that we do circus animals there would be severe backlash and ethical outrage, however, doing so to animals is common, and accepted, practice (Serpell, 1986). It is clear from both a scientific standpoint, given the overall sentience of animals and the vast similarities they share with humans, and from a basic moral standpoint that humans do in fact have an ethical obligation to circus animals, and that these animals should be afforded similar ethical rights to humans. If this is the case, then, due to the demonstrably lacklustre physical, legal and psychological treatment of circus animals, humans have blatantly violated these rights and neglected to fulfil said obligation in contemporary times.
Cumulatively, it is evident that humans have several ethical obligations to circus animals, which are not currently upheld. Circus animals are subjected to blatantly abusive and even cruel means of training for the purpose of performing unnatural and inherently dangerous acts. Often, this punishment is both excessive and deliberately inflicted, rather than being a regrettable side-effect of legitimate training. Further, the legal protection afforded to circus animals is severely lacking, and weakly imposed. This has led to several cases of animal abuse, even in instances where the animal was a member of a rare or endangered species. As an offset, the ethical treatment of circus animals is widely regarded as an insignificant legal issue, which has therefore led to widespread and engrained social apathy, with people largely preferring to ignore it than actively oppose it. Moreover, it is palpably clear that the circus environment is in no way beneficial to the animals, and in fact causes mental and psychological discomfort. Given that animals are...

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