To the editor of THE EAGLE:

Circuses that use animals are the cruelest shows on Earth! Many animals, not just elephants, are abused and punished daily in order to force them to perform. Please consider the following reasons not to attend the circus, now or ever.

Many young animals (including elephants and big cats) are born into captivity and forced to grow up around humans in an unnatural, stressful environment. Others are captured in the wild and must endure forced separation of herds and babies from their mothers. Performing animals such as elephants, lions, tigers, bears, and so on endure years of physical and psychological suffering. The silly tricks that animals are forced to perform night after night are frightening, unnatural, and even painful. Standard circus industry practice is to use bullhooks, electrical prods, or sticks to poke, strike, shock, hit the animals, even deny food and water, in order to "train" them to stand on their heads, dance, jump through terrifying hoops of fire, all for a few moments of human amusement.

When animals aren’t in training or performing they spend most of their lives in isolation, caged or chained. They suffer from psychological problems because of the unnatural and stressful environment. Some common signs of this mental distress include swaying back and forward, head-bobbing, pacing, and sometimes even self-mutilation. Circus animals travel almost non-stop, up to 12,000 miles a year, 11 months a year.


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Tigers and lions live and are transported in cages only 4’ X 5’ X 6’, with barely enough room to turn around. Elephants are left without water, chained in filthy unsanitary, sweltering, poorly ventilated railroad cars whose temperatures can reach over 100 degrees, which can cause death. These animals will never experience anything that’s natural and important to them, such as running, playing, jumping, or socializing with their families, which most will never see again.

Although there are laws regarding animal care in circuses, they establish meager, inadequate standards that often aren’t enforced or are ignored. Many of these circuses have been cited multiple times but remain in business.

Remember that when you purchase a ticket to the circus, you are supporting deliberate forms of cruelty to animals. Despite circuses’ high-minded claims, they are entertainment, not education. Watching wild animals perform unnatural tricks does not teach children respect or appreciation for animals, nor does it help animals in the wild. Circuses teach children that it’s acceptable to exploit and mistreat animals for amusement.

The truth is that more and more people are realizing that cruelty lurks behind the glitz and excitement promoted by circuses. Visitor numbers to circuses with animals are dropping, while traveling shows, in which talented and daring human acrobats and other performers amaze and dazzle the crowd with their skill and bravery, are becoming increasingly popular and no living being has to endure pain and suffering. We all applaud trapeze artists, jugglers, clowns, tightrope walkers, and acrobats, but let’s leave animals in peace. Attend an animal-free circus such as Cirque du Soleil and others like it and support compassion, not cruelty.

CLAIRE BOSMA

Pittsfield