To the editor of THE EAGLE:
I am writing in response to the July 26 letter to the editor in which the author attacked the use of animals in circuses. As the chair of the Circus Fans of America's Animal Welfare Committee, I speak with decades of experience with animals in circus and I can tell you that not only are circuses not cruel to animals, but circus animals play an important role in conservation of endangered species, like the Asian elephant.
The letter claims that circus animals are in stressful environments and are forced to perform. None of that is the case. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) conducted a study that proved that circus lions had low stress levels and actually enjoyed their travels (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3D2eIsbOchpx).
World-renowned Animal Science professor Dr. Ted Friend has conducted studies on circus elephants for over 30 years and stated, "There is no doubt that many circus elephants find performances to be rewarding." Dr. Friend's work has published 10 studied on circus elephants and big cats, all in respected, peer-reviewed journals. The facts simply do not back up the claim that circus animals are stressed or forced to perform.
Like with many animal rights claims the truth is actually the opposite.
Circus animals are highly regulated on the federal level by USDA, state level by Fish & Game, and on the local level.
Circuses also play a key role in conservation. Seeing an elephant in person teaches us to care and inspires people to take action to help save them from extinction. Even with the tens of millions of dollars animal rights groups rake in annually, animal rights organizations like PETA are not responsible for a single elephant birth. Meanwhile just one circus, Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey, is responsible for 26 Asian elephant births with more on the way! It is clear that conservation happens in the circus not with the radical animal rights movement.
The true advocates for animal welfare are the circus folk themselves. That's why we at the Circus Fans Association of America support them.
Removing elephants, tigers, lions, and other animals from citizens' experiences will literally be a case of "out of sight, out of mind" and can only hurt the conservation effort. Don't get taken in by the rhetoric and emotional appeals by animal rights extremists. Go to the circus and make a true connection with an animal and support conservation at the same time!
The writer is chair of the Animal Welfare Committee for the Circus Fans Association of America.