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Exploitation of endangered species in the circus

For people who have been in or heard stories about abusive relationships, the line "you would be nothing without me" sounds all too familiar. There is a similar ideology between companies in charge of the circus scene and endangered species. The relationship between Feld Entertainment Inc., parent company to Ringling Brothers, and their endangered Asian Elephants used in show , is nothing short of abusive (Beverage, 2010).

Elephant being tortured for circus act

Circus owners take advantage of the vulnerability factor that endangered species possess. The ideology of companies including Feld Entertainment Inc. is as follows: endangered species are better off alive and working than being hunted in the wild, causing their species become extinct (Nijand, Aarts & Renes, 2013). The former argument implies that working is the only way to keep endangered animals from becoming extinct, which is untrue.

During the Ringling Brothers acts', Asian Elephants, an endangered species, are forced to stand on their heads in addition to sitting in an upright position as a mean to astound the audience. It would be to reason that, circus acts breach the Animal Welfare Act by not providing a "sufficient space to make normal postural and social adjustments with adequate freedom of movement" (Animal Welfare Act, 2010). The best interest of the non-human animals used at Feld Entertainment Inc., are not at heart, which is made clear by the acts trainers force upon their victims.


Animal Welfare Act. Space Requirements, 9 C.F.R. § 3.128 (2010)

Beverage, E. E. (2010). Abuse under the big top: seeking legal protection for circus elephants after aspca v. ringling brothers. Vanderbilt Journal Of Entertainment & Technology Law, 13(1), 155-184.

Nijland, H., Aarts, N., & Renes, R. (2013). Frames and ambivalence in context: an analysis of hands-on experts' perception of the welfare of animals in traveling circuses in the netherlands. Journal Of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics, 26(3), 523-535. doi:10.1007/s10806-010-9252-8

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