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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Having the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus here in Roanoke for performances on five days saddened those of us who love animals.
However, The Roanoke Times chose to give this circus lots of free publicity, with one headline reading “The Greatest Show on Earth.” However, animal welfare organizations call it, rightfully, “The cruelest show on Earth,” substantiated by the all-time high penalty of $270,000 imposed on this circus and paid in November 2011.
What caught my attention in the May 2 article (“High energy on tap under the big top”) was something new: A veterinary technician is traveling with the circus, and the story stated that “head Ringling veterinarians visit the animals about once a month.” I am sure this is meant as a reassuring gesture for the public after the $270,000 fine.
My questions are: What is a visiting veterinarian looking for? Is he checking the elephants for tuberculosis? (A common ailment in elephants caused by the unhealthy environment they are confined to. Is he checking their feet? (Another common problem is crippling of the feet from standing for hours instead of walking for miles, which elephants need to do because of their weight.)
In any case, I thought veterinarians have a duty to see to it that animals are kept in healthy living quarters, humanely treated in a stress- and pain-free environment. This is hardly the case with circus animals that are under constant threat of punishment to perform unnatural acts for the entertainment of people, or are traveling for hours on highways to other cities for more of the same.
Also, it would be interesting to know how the veterinary technician is possibly helping these suffering animals.
On call 24 hours a day just means to me that the poor animals suffer day and night from conditions we don’t even know about, but certainly related to their unnatural lifestyle.
I do think the people acts of this circus that are pictured in the paper look really nice. Why not stick to those and leave the wild animals in the wild? There are many fine and very popular circuses with just people who perform.
Many countries have introduced national legislation prohibiting the use of animals in circuses, and hundreds of towns and cities around the world have looked at the evidence and decided to stop animal circuses from visiting their communities.
It is time for the U.S. to also move in this direction.
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