This past week, Feld Entertainment announced the closing of the famed Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s circus. I have a fond memory of my first circus; I got a pink inflatable elephant and ate my weight in cracker jacks. I was too young to remember much else, though. Now, I am a bit appalled at the thought of animals performing silly tricks for entertainment.
Earlier in 2016, the show announced the conclusion of its iconic elephant performance, which may have been the beginning of the end. Now, many individuals will be out of jobs, and animals will need new homes. The circus will conclude after a month-long stint starting in February at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
I have mixed feelings about the closing of the circus. On one hand, I’m hoping it decreases the likelihood of exotic animal ownership. Whether PETA’s stories of animal abuse are true or not, living in cages and traveling by train car is no life for an animal, even if it’s all they’ve ever known. An important point to remember is that these circus animals cannot be released into the wild as a result of their human interaction. Thus, places like zoos and conservation facilities will need to take them in. This happens every day in the US. That cute tiger cub you just took a photo with? It will only be cute for about two more months, and afterwards tossed aside like an old toy. After three months of human handling, it will no longer be able to live a life without us. That is just wrong.
On the other hand, the closing of such a large circus leaves me wondering what form of live entertainment will be the next to go. What with this day and age of technology, people would rather enjoy shows on TV in the convenience of their home. This left me with the question: What about zoos? While not all zoos are comfortable and hold high standard, many are important for raising animal awareness and conservation efforts. Will this also become another form of obsolete entertainment for children and parents? I’m not sure. The circus listed a number of failed attempts at keeping up with the times, but I can’t imagine children passing up on the amazement of seeing live animals up close. The best we can do is support larger and better quality zoos for these animals.
Remember that Barnum & Bailey’s isn’t the only circus in existence. Ideally, all circuses will begin to close down following their lead. Dragging animals around and forcing them to perform in front of live audiences is abuse, and it must not continue.
If you’re interested in supporting the animals owned by Feld Entertainment, consider making a donation to their elephant sanctuary. You can do so by following this link, and read more about the conservation efforts they partake in.