Letter to the Editor: End Animal Abuse in Circuses

In January 2017, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus decided to fold up its tents and end animal cruelty. Unfortunately, there are still smaller circuses around; and one of those, the Carden Shrine Circus was in Green Bay this past weekend.

It looks like so much fun with acrobats in sparkly costumes, silly clowns in facepaint, and exotic animals performing tricks at the snap of their trainers’ fingers. Promoters will tell you that performing animals love their trainers, who treat them like family. Don’t believe it! There’s something no circus wants you to see – the suffering of those same animals.

Common sense tells us that elephants balancing on stools and tigers jumping through flaming hoops are not natural behaviors, yet these magnificent creatures are forced to perform such tricks using brutal and inhumane methods. Whips, bull hooks, muzzles, and electric prods are necessary to coerce wild animals to repetitiously execute stunts that make no sense to to them. Ricardo, an 8-month-old elephant, died after irreparably fracturing both hind legs falling off a training pedestal at a Florida Ringling Bros. compound.

Circus animals spend their lives chained in small barren cages, only allowed out from behind bars to perform. They are unable to exhibit instinctive behaviors, such as elephants in the wild who walk several miles daily, have extended family, and even grieve for their dead.

Captive animals suffer as they are shipped from town to town. Clyde, a young lion, died in a sweltering boxcar as a Ringling Bros. train crossed the Mojave Desert on a 100-degree day.

Many people dream of running away to join the circus, yet performing animals would flee if they could. Tyke, a 21-year-old African elephant, escaped in Hawaii, crushed her trainer, rampaged through the streets, and was finally killed in a hail of bullets – 87 to be exact.

Ricardo, Clyde and Tyke lived miserable lives and died horrible deaths, knowing nothing other than abusive and inhumane torment. If we treated our pets as performing animals are, we would be charged with animal cruelty – and rightly so.

I realize that the Shriners organization does much good with their charitable efforts; however, circuses with performing animals are cruel, not entertainment, and charity can be accomplished without animal abuse.


JoAnne Rosenfeld

Egg Harbor, Wis.

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