***WARNING - several links in this article contain videos depicting scenes of circus elephant abuse that readers may find disturbing***
For elephants and other animal performers, the circus is an unending string of miserable experiences.
Just for a moment, imagine a life in which you and your family are held captive in cages, transported long distances in cramped trucks and trains in extreme weather conditions, tormented by handlers who speak an unrecognizable language, beaten with clubs, gashed with metal hooks, stunned with electric prods and intimidated through fear and pain to perform humiliating, demeaning and unnatural acts amid the chaos and confusion of frightening lights, booming noises and fiery flashes for no better reason than to make your captors money.
Now imagine that, as a result of this enslavement, you and your family slowly go insane, displaying stereotypic behavior (abnormal, maladaptive behavior seen in captive animals, indicative of psychological distress and sometimes involving self-injury) restlessly pacing the lengths of your cages or neurotically standing and swaying from side to side for hours on end, never understanding why this is happening to you and not knowing if and when it will ever end.
Imagine the fear and the pain. Imagine the anxiety. Imagine that every day when you wake up, the nightmare begins again.
If you can imagine this, then can you imagine paying people to mistreat animals this way?
The Cruelest Show On Earth
According to a CNN report in 2011, "The U.S. Department of Agriculture has slapped the parent company of the "Greatest Show on Earth" with a record penalty for alleged animal rights violations.
Feld Entertainment Inc., which produces the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, has agreed to pay $270,000 for allegedly violating the Animal Welfare Act on several occasions from June 2007 to August 2011, according to a USDA news release.
The USDA can levy fines of up to $10,000 per violation of the act."
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) will continue an educational campaign outside American Airlines Arena before and after all performances to inform and enlighten the public about the ugly truth behind animal circuses. All those who care to join the peaceful demonstrations are welcomed and encouraged to participate. The demonstration schedule can be viewed at arff.org
Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in this country 148 years ago. Isn't it time our actions matched our words?