Ringling Bros. Agrees to Stop Using Elephants But It's Not All Good News

There aren't too many times I'm going to praise the circus, but this is one of them. Ringling Bros. has announced that it will phase out its use of elephants in its shows, and retire them all by 2018. That's definitely something to cheer about -- elephants shouldn't be wearing headbands and balancing on small tables for the amusement of humans.


There has been a long documented history of animals being abused to become entertainment for bored parents and their over-indulged children and it's time it came to a stop. It's awesome that Ringling Bros. is recognizing this and willing to stop parading elephants around for our bizarre amusement.

But there are some issues with this good intention. I agree with PETA, which said the elephants should be retired immediately, not in two years. But I'm also more disturbed by the company's proclamation that it will continue to use other animals, such as tigers, lions, horses, dogs and camels, in its shows.

Okay, maybe dogs are fine. Provided they are treated well, some dogs enjoy working and performing. But why in the world are wild animals such as tigers and lions hauled from town to town in cages and paraded around in front of screaming crowds? If we tore toddlers away from their families, trained them to perform tricks with the threat of whips and bullhooks, it would be considered outrageous abuse, but somehow with animals it's considered just fine?

We used to do something like this with humans -- it was called slavery.

More from The Stir: Abuse of Circus Animals Won't Keep My Kid Out of the Big Top

Former Ringling Bros. employees have stated that animals have been abused by trainers and the company has even been fined in the past because of it. Why are they still allowed to have any animals in its shows?

Parents who take their kids to shows involving trained animals -- unless they are domesticated animals like dogs (I'm on the fence about cats -- some are super social and do seem to enjoy performing, others would rather hide under the bed) -- are teaching their children that animals are on this planet for the abuse and exploitation of humans in the name of mere entertainment -- not even survival. And that's just wrong.

Do you take your kids to the circus?

Image via Getty Images Entertainment


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