Abuse of Circus Animals Won't Keep My Kid Out of the Big Top

circus elephantsMommy will you take me to the circus? Flying acrobats, clowns, lion tamers, and animal abuse -- oh my! I've never wanted to take my son to the circus. Every time the circus comes to town, the subways and street corners are plastered with those exciting ads and I just ... I can't. I've heard too many reports of animal abuse

Are the reports true? Ringling Brothers paid a $270,000 fine for violating the Animal Welfare Act (even though they didn't admit to abuse). And Mother Jones published an expose on the treatment of circus animals. It's not The New York Times, but as someone who never really liked the circus anyway, that's enough proof for me. So then why did I let my son go to the circus anyway?


Welcome to the many compromises of parenthood! I've never been drawn to the circus myself. Ever since that episode of Little House on the Prairie where a girl gets raped by a guy in a clown costume, I've been creeped out by clowns (WTF, that did NOT happen in the books, Michael Landon!). I don't like the music, the noise, the colors, the "food," really, I hate everything about the circus. I don't even like animal tricks. I don't need an expose on animal abuse to feel like there's just something undignified going on there.

Plus, there are so many alternatives. The parents in my neighborhood (Park Slope) have had several online debates about the circus and people always bring up the smaller, independent circus-type performances. They're much cooler, for one thing. And they don't involve animals. Hip and cruelty free, it's kind of a no-brainer.

Oh, but then along comes summer day camp. One year the day-camp my son attended planned a trip to the circus -- the big, maybe-animal-abusing one. I saw it there on the calendar. Opt out and miss a day of work? Or just -- tamp down my moral outrage and let him go? I'm afraid I went with passive acceptance. I let him go. He thought it was okay. But he never asked to go again.

Do you take your kids to the circus?


Image via ftcarsonPAO/Flickr

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