Circuses care for, protect wild animals
To the editor:
Eagle letter writer Brenda Dumont (July 7) urged the Pittsfield City Council to ban performing animals in circuses, claiming that those animals would not do those behaviors naturally. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
Ms. Dumont uses elephants doing headstands as an example. However, wild elephants regularly crush things with their heads, lifting both back feet off the ground. If you watch elephants at play, you will also see this behavior.
Animals do not have to be "broken" as Ms. Dumont suggests in her letter — they are simply trained with love, repetition, and food rewards much like you train your family dog. The same goes for tigers, which are naturally athletic animals for whom jumping is akin to breathing. The trainer-animal relationship is based on trust and mutual respect; anything else would get in the way of communicating effectively with the animal and you wouldn't be able to accomplish the beautiful feats you see in a performance.
Conservation work happens because people care. Seeing exotic animals in person teaches people to care. Not everyone can afford expensive trips around the world to see elephants and tigers in their dwindling natural habitats. If animal rights activists had their way the zoos would also close, cutting off even more access to these majestic creatures.
It is irresponsible to try to eliminate animals from our lives because it is our job to take care of them and preserve them for future generations. Circuses and performing animals are one of the last ways the public can experience these creatures first hand.
Investigate who's doing the real conservation work for exotic animals — circuses like Ringling Brother's Barnum and Bailey who have the most successful endangered Asian elephant breeding program in the Western Hemisphere, or radicals like the Humane Society of the United States, which only gives 1 percent of its budget to shelters despite their sad puppy TV ads.
Please support the ability to inspire, support conservation, and support animals in the circus.
Sarah Conley, Redondo Beach, Ca., The writer is the Animal Welfare Committee chair for the Circus Fans Association of America.