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Christine Choi
Writing 39C
Greg McClure
29 August 2015
Forced To Entertain
In the circus industry, innocent animals are used for entertainment in serious cruelty.
Animal performers live their lives in confinement where they are brutally abused during training.
According to a study by the government of Netherlands, 66% of wild animals were starved or
malnourished, 71% of circus animals suffered medical problems, and 33% do not have access to
the outdoor (Should Animal Circuses Be Banned). Circus animals suffer to perform for human
entertainment but the cases of animal abuse are not regularly reported and the cruelty is mostly
hidden behind the entertaining circus environment. Internationally, people need to take circus
cruelty into more consideration and recognize that circus animals have no freedom, protection, or
happiness in the circus industry. It is important to protect and care for circus animals because
even though they are animals, they can have emotions similar to humans and suffer
psychological effects (ASPCA).
I will review literature that indicate non-human animals like chimpanzees, do have
emotions. I will first analyze how chimpanzees and elephants show specific emotions of
mourning and grieving through their behavioral observations. I will then review the problem that
describes the abuse on circus animals, the confinement they live in, and the effect of circus
cruelty that could even threaten the public safety. Circus animals have the right to be protected
and live in the nature like any other wild animals. Therefore, to end this cruelty, I would be

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advocating solutions such as the outlawing of animal use in circuses and supporting animal-free
The fact that animals have emotions further indicates the inhumanity of circus cruelty.
Historically speaking, the topic of animal emotions was first brought to attention when Charles
Darwin, an English naturalist and geologist, wrote the book Expression of the Emotions in Man
and Animals in 1872. Darwin argued that the feelings of humans and animals were manifested in
similar ways and human expressions developed through common evolutionary mechanisms
(MacLean). After Darwins study, many scientists continued to research in this topic and leave
scientific evidences that prove animal emotions. Chimpanzees, one of the animals brought into
the circus industry show specific emotions of grieving and mourning through their behaviors.
Jane Goodall, a researcher and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute who is well known for her
55 years of study in social and family interactions of chimpanzees, wrote her observation of a
mourning chimpanzee in the book Through a Window. The chimpanzee she observed was a
young male chimpanzee named Flint who experienced the death of his mother. According to
Goodall, Flint refused to eat or interact with other chimpanzees after his mothers death. He
became very depressed, weary with his weakened immune system, and soon died in the same
place as his mothers body had lain (Goodall 224). The unbearable emotions of grieving and
mourning illustrate the deep love Flint had towards his mother. Goodalls observation proves that
chimpanzees have emotions that should be respected as the humans who have similar emotions
as them.
Elephants that are also captured in circus industries are emotional animals that need to be
valued. Barbara King, a Chancellor Professor of Anthropology at the College of William and
Mary and the author of the book How Animals Grieve, describes an observation made by

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elephant researchers in Kenyas Samburu National Reserve. The matriarch of an elephant family
named Eleanor was weakened and bruised that she soon collapsed on the ground. Then Grace, a
matriarch of another elephant family came
near and helped Eleanor back up to a
standing position (Figure 1).

But since

Eleanor was too weakened already, she

collapsed again and this caused Grace to
show extreme distress by vocalizing and
refusing to leave her side. Eleanor died but
another elephant, Maui, from a third

Figure 1. Grace aids Eleanor.

elephant family came to the body and hovered over her body. Researchers claim that the
behavior of Grace and Maui clearly involved grief (King) that also supports a quote by
Kowalski. Gary Kowalski, an American author and a graduate of Harvard College, wrote in his
book The Souls of Animals, Animals, like us, are living souls. They are not things. They are not
objects. Neither are they human. Yet they mourn. They love. They dance. They suffer. They
know the peaks and chasms of being. (Kowalski) Animals, as the ones studied above, have
emotions that should not be ignored just because they cannot express them through words like
human beings.
Since non-human animals cannot speak for themselves and express their feelings, does
that mean humans can be superior over animals? Is speciesism, the belief that humans have
superiority over non-human animals for just being a human acceptable? Richard Ryder, a British
psychologist, philosopher, and animal right advocate who invented the concept of speciesism in
1970, argues that humans need to stop treating other species as objects and show the same kind

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of respect since the amount of pain to animals and
humans are the same. Humans who consider
themselves as the central and superior commit a
brutal cruelty on animals, especially in the circus
industry where humans profit and entertainment
are prioritized over animals emotions or health.
The inhumanity of circus cruelty is a
serious problem because animals are abused and
trapped to live in confinement. Some readers
might argue that circus animals do not go through
such cruelty and the trainers treat them with love
since they perform together. But this is an illusion
many people have because the abusive and
torturing cruelty on animals mostly happens
during training (Figure 2). It happens behind the
scene where it is not visible to the audience. The
founder of Ringling Bros., Henry Ringling North,
admitted circus cruelty in his book, The Circus
Kings that tigers and lions are chained to their
pedestals and choked down (PETA).
Tom Rider, a former employee of Ringling
Brothers Circus who worked as a barn man for the
Figure 2. Infographic of Circus Animal Cruelty created

elephants, wrote an affidavit explaining the abuse

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of elephants he witnessed behind the circus show. He states that the abuse at Ringling Brothers is
about six days a week, almost daily. He witnessed on July 9, 1997, in Tupelo, MS, a storm was
coming in and all the elephants were chained in a line all wet. After the storm, he unchained the
elephants to walk back to the facility but a truck that drove up scared the elephants. Four of them
started to run and a worker ran after an elephant named Mini. He hooked in front of the trunk to
bring her down on the ground and this left Mini a 3-inch cut across her trunk (Rider).
Another affidavit he wrote describes the seriousness of circus animal cruelty, especially
on elephants that have emotional
feelings. In May 1988, in New
Haven, one of the workers was
beating an elephant named Benjamin
because he was messing with the
other elephant. Another elephant Figure 3: Photo provided to PETA by a former Ringling elephant
named Karen made noise by rattling

trainer. Example of how ropes, chains, electric prods, and bullhooks

are used during training.

her chain as Benjamin was getting hit and she was beaten for 23 minutes for not staying quiet.
Rider was asked to get a Wonder Dust so the bleeding on Karen could be covered up (Rider).
The elephant named Karen felt compassion toward her fellow friend Benjamin who was getting
beaten but this caused her to get beaten as well. Circus animals, especially elephants, are beaten,
poked, and jabbed with sharp hooks when they are off the stage. Trainers use whips, tight collars,
muzzles, electric prods, bullhooks, and other painful tools of the trade to force animals to
perform (Figure 3) meaningless and physically uncomfortable tricks (PETA). This is a major
problem in circus cruelty because humans are ignoring animals emotion and pain.

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According to Michelle Land, an environmental leader and researcher who focuses on the

intersection of animal welfare and conservation policy, circus animals may travel thousand of
miles a year that can be dangerous. They are confined to boxcars and trailers where they have no
access to basic necessities. Tiger cats usually live and travel in 4 x 7 x 7 sized cages where two
big cats are put into one cage. Animals are forced to eat, sleep, and urinate in the same cage they
are trapped and forced in inactivity. Cold or hot climate do not give them the opportunity to
receive extra care (Land). Circus animal cruelty like this is a problem that must be solved
because confinement and lack of care for these animals lead to serious health problems that can
even cause death.
There was actual death of a 2-year-old circus lion named Clyde in August 2004 during a
circus travel that describes how innocent lives of animals are killed by human egoism. An article
written by Marc Kaufman, a Washington Post staff writer, says that The Ringling Brothers and
Barnum & Bailey circus allowed Clyde to die in a sweltering animal train crossing the Mojave
Dessert and tried to hide this information from the government. After an investigation, an
affidavit was received contenting that the lion died because he suffered extreme heat in the
boxcar he was caged in. Circus officials did not stop the train to cool the animal nor did they
provide water (Kaufman). Constant confinement, training, and abuse cause psychological stress
and frustration to animals that can lead to public danger.
Extreme frustration creates animals to rebel against their trainers and run away into the
public like the recent accident in Germany. In June 13, a 65-year-old man taking his regular
morning stroll was attacked and killed by an elephant that escaped from a near by circus. (BBC)
In 2003, Dimitri Pavlov, a Russian animal trainer was killed by circus lions as he accidentally
left the cage door opened (Doherty). Marc Bekoff who studies animal emotions claim that Dr.

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Hope Ferdowsian and her colleagues have shown that captive chimpanzees display behavior
patterns similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. The same goes for
elephants abused in circuses where they are treated incredibly harshly (egregiously and
inhumanely "broken") so they will perform unnatural tricks and for those kept in tiny cages in
zoos absent social companions and a physical environment where they can do the things their
wild relatives routinely do (Bekoff).
As mentioned before, animals feel emotions such as frustration and depression that
explains why they need to be protected and set free. In order to solve the problem of circus
animal cruelty, states have created various laws to protect the animals. According to Cal. Health
& Safety 25989.1, California State requires circus to provide municipal authorities and it
prohibits certain animals being used in a circus. New York protects endangered animals in
circuses by the N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law 11-0103. Some states like Ohio, Ohio Rev. Code.
Ann. 959.20, prohibits the use of certain devices such as hooks and rods on circus animals
(Animals in Circuses and the Laws Governing Them) but these laws are not effective enough to
end circus animal cruelty. Circus industries still continue to harm animals other than endangered
or prohibited animals and the brutal abuse continues without being caught.
Animal cruelty in circuses is a serious issue in the United States (Figure 4) and even
across the world. The best solution to solve this problem is to ban circuses that use animals in
their performances like the recent legislation passed in Mexico. Senator Jorge Emilio Gonzlez
Martnez (PVEM) proposed the measure as an amendment to Mexicos environmental and
wildlife law, General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection. Those found
guilty of committing an offence under the new legislation face huge fines of 50 to 50,000 times
the minimum wage the equivalent of nearly $225,000 / 150,000. The Green Party in Mexico

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has asked ADI to begin highlighting

the law throughout Mexico (Stop
Circus Suffering). A ban like this







cruelty on animals. This is an action

that the United States and the entire
Figure 4. Graph of documented abuse in circuses
world need to follow right now.
Circus animals would gain freedom and no longer be abused or forced to perform riding
bicycles, jumping through fire hoops, or standing on their heads or two feet if people can put
their time and effort into action. Signing a petition to request legislation to be passed in the U.S.
to ban animals in circuses and protesting the end of circus cruelty are two ways how we can all
bring freedom to suffering animals. Speaking for the animals and taking action to make a change
is the way to protect the animals most effectively.
Using the social media can bring more attention and support to end circus cruelty.
Educating others about this inhumanity and suggesting to attend animal free circuses is the
second solution to this problem. If animals were banned in circuses, many people would worry
about losing their careers and audiences. But if people use the power of social media to advertise
the exhilaration of animal free circuses, the problem would be solved for both sides. Animals
will be free from pain and humans will continue to work for the circus industry. Individuals can
first stand against circus animal cruelty by campaigning through social media. According to Clay
Shirky, an American writer that focuses in the effects of Internet technologies, social media is
now everywhere that people are not longer disconnected to each other. He gives an example of

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how Chinese citizens used social media during the 2008 earthquake and reported the disaster in
real time. This was spread globally through the use of media and this social connection brought
many donations from all around the world. Social media also helped the citizens figure out that
corrupt officials had taken bribes to allow school building to be built to less than code and this
lead many people to protest (Shirky). Shirkys explanation shows that social media can be
reached out to all over the world. It is the most significant way to share knowledge and make it
spread all around. There are many people who still do not know the fact of circus cruelty and a
powerful post on social media would be able to touch their heart and motivate them to stand
against circus animal cruelty.
Here are couple ways to campaign circus cruelty using social media. First, it is important
to research on circus animal cruelty because a post on a social media platform should be
credible. Share the knowledge of circus animal cruelty using images that will catch the viewers
attention. Include links that can easily lead the viewers to take action. For an example, a link to
an animal-free circus website or a website where people can sign a petition. Promoting the
excitement of animal-free circuses on social media will introduce hundreds or millions of people
to a new circus. One post will spread from viewers to viewers and soon more people would stand
up to protect the animals.
Social media can help individuals to act by signing a petition or participating in a protest
against circus cruelty. I personally experienced the necessity of social media when my group
mates and I created a social media campaign for farm animals. We were able to share the
knowledge that many did not know and gain support from people all over the world. Social
media is a great method to share the knowledge of circus animal cruelty and the pain they

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experience. If we fight against this cruelty and share the excitements of circuses that are animal
free, less people would go support the animal circus performances.
It is difficult for people to see the mistreatment of circus animals behind the stage.
Animals have similar emotions like humans and even though they are considered non-human
animals, a pain is a pain. Nobody would like to feel the pain of abuse or torture; rather he or she
is a human or animal. Animals are not born to suffer from the inhumanity of humans nor are they
meant to live in confinement getting beaten and abused. They are born to be who they are and to
live as free natured animals. Humans have taken so many things from these innocent animals:
their family, health, freedom, and happiness. It is time to give back the things we have taken and
provide the animals with love and protection.

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Works Cited

Bekoff, Marc. "Do Wild Animals Suffer From PTSD and Other Psychological Disorders?"
Psychology Today. N.p., 29 Nov. 2011. Web. 20 Aug. 2015
Bhalla, Shivani. Grace aids Eleanor. October 2010. National Geographic. Web. 19 August 2015
"Circus Cruelty." ASPCA. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2015.
"Circuses." PETA. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.
Doherty, James. "Circus Lions Kill Drunk Trainer." - The Scotsman. N.p., 28 Apr. 2003. Web.
20 Aug. 2015.
"Full Title Name: Animals in Circuses and the Laws Governing Them." Animals in Circuses
and the Laws Governing Them. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.
"I Love Seeing the Animals at the Circus, and They Don't Seem to Mind Performing. Why Does
PETA Protest the Use of Animals in Circuses?" PETA I Love Seeing the Animals at the
Circus and They Dont Seem to Mind Performing Why Does PETA Protest the Use of
Animals in Circuses Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2015.
Kaufman, Marc. "USDA Investigates Death of Circus Lion." Washington Post. The Washington
Post, 8 Aug. 2004. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.
King, Barbara. "When Animals Mourn: Seeing That Grief Is Not Uniquely Human." NPR. NPR,
n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2015.
Kowalski, Gary. "The Souls of Animals Quotes." N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.
Land, Michelle D. "
Eliminating Long-range and Dangerous Wild Animals from
Entertainment Demonstrations in New York State." (n.d.): n. pag. Pace University
Academy for Applied Environmental Studies & the Committee to Ban Wild and Exotic
Animal Acts, Aug. 2012. Web. 19 Aug. 2015.

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MacLean, Robert. "UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW." The Expression of the Emotions in Man and
Animals. N.p., Nov. 2009. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.
"Mexico Bans Wild Animals in Circuses!" Stop Circus Suffering. N.p., 12 Dec. 2014. Web. 20
Aug. 2015.
Read, Bruce. "Animal Care FAQ." Animal Care FAQ. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2015.
Rider, Tom E. "Affidavit." (n.d.): n. pag. Hypergear Tiff/pdf Convert Library. Web. Web. 18
August 2015
"Should Animal Circuses Be Banned? - Facts & Infographic." Should Animal Circuses Be
Banned? N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2015.
"Spite Is a Uniquely Human Emotion - New Scientist." New Scientist. N.p., n.d. Web. 31
July 2015.
"Transcript of "How Social Media Can Make History"" Clay Shirky: How Social Media Can
Make History. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.
"Walker in Germany Is Killed by an Escaped Circus Elephant - BBC News." BBC News. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 13 Aug. 2015.