Picture a herd of elephants. There’s a young one, with naughty eyes, surrounded by the rest of the family – mother, father, aunts, uncles, cousins. Elephants are very intelligent and perceptive. They are usually peace-loving, gentle creatures.
Though most of their numbers have been decimated by the brutal ivory trade, they have also been depleted by their capture for use as pack animals and circus performers. In captivity they are traditionally chained at all times, or controlled by the vicious ‘ankur’, whose spikes are delivered as blows to punish and control these giant and desperate victims.
Can you imagine being cooped up in a tiny room, with barely enough room to sit without your head bumping the roof? Can you imagine being fed dry, stale food and little water? This is the life of circus elephants round the clock. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there for animals that are kept captive in circuses. They must learn and perform complicated actions that are designed to amuse us. They must do a variety of things they would never do in the wild, on punishment of the ankur. All so that we can stand up, clap, point and smile.
What gives us the right to exploit other creatures like this?
We humans boast of our great intelligence. We have built ourselves cities, and armed ourselves with technology. And yet, it seems that we cannot grasp this simple concept that animals do not belong to us, and never will.
What we should be doing is ensuring that they are cared for, in their natural habitats. As the so-called smartest species on the planet, we should know better than to do what we do to them. These animals never consented to living their lives out as puppets in circuses and they never had a choice. We never stopped for a moment to think about how unnatural it was to see a lion jump through a ring of fire. How did he learn to do that? He certainly didn’t understand what the trainer wanted him to do right away, did he? Think about how many times he must have failed. Think about all the punishments and suffering that must have taken place for him to get the message and that he had to leap through the ring of fire. Missed meals, injuries, terror and incredible mental stress don’t even begin to cover it.
Please don’t encourage animal abuse, anywhere. Remember, they feel pain just like we do, and we have no right to inflict pain and suffering on animals.
Circuses are happy places for us. Let’s strive to make them happy places for animals too by making sure they are very far away from the stage.