Ringling Bros Circus: Barbaric and Unnecessary

The other day my friend Catherine from Rare Tee Clothing (seriously check out her site y’all, she has adorable tees!) asked me if I wanted to attend a protest of Ringling Bros Circus with her in downtown LA. I have never attended a protest before and honestly the first thing that popped into my head was an image of a screaming mob getting tear gassed and arrested (my brain tends to circle around the worst scenarios first) – so needless to say I was hesitant. Catherine assured me they were normally peaceful so I sucked up my fears and decided to go.

Fellowship of the Vegetable Ringling Bros Protest

I knew using animals for entertainment was wrong and I had heard the stories of circus elephants going on rampages due to mental exhaustion and stress but I didn’t know everything they did to these poor majestic creatures in order to “train” them. Here are just a few examples of the torture inflicted upon circus animals:

  • nursing baby elephants are ripped from their mothers to break their spirits
  • ropes, chains, electric prods & bullhooks are used to force them into unnatural and painful positions to perform “tricks”
  • arthritis, foot injuries and other medical ailments are ignored ultimately causing the animals to be euthanized when they can no longer perform
  • they travel long hours trapped in tiny, flithy boxcars in extreme temperatures, forced to stand or lay in their own waste

This treatment is ridiculous, heartbreaking and unnecessary. There are a plethora of circuses that don’t use animals at all and are still highly entertaining such as Cirque du Soleil, Bindlestiff Family Circus & Earth Circus just to name a few. Better yet – take your kids to the beach, or a hike, or an animal sanctuary where they can learn how to be kind to animals. There is no excuse to support this type of abuse. Think of the outrage you felt when finding out about Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring. This is no different, it is the cruel exploitation of a living, breathing, feeling being for no other reason than human entertainment.

Animal Cruelty

The protest turned out to be pretty interesting. A lot of parents with their young children walked  past us and I noticed a funny thing: the parents would actively ignore our signs, but the kids seemed to really take them in. You could see a look of comprehension cross their little faces. “Why are those baby elephants being hurt?” Maybe it was too much for them to understand now, but I hope part of it will stick with them until they can piece it together. It seems so many people just don’t know or want to know what goes on behind the scenes but we have to educate and bring awareness to the masses. Catherine had a great story from a past protest she went to where someone stopped and asked her if that is what actually happened to the animals and when she replied yes they ripped up their ticket, grabbed a sign and joined the protest. That, to me, is what it’s all about.

For more info on why you shouldn’t support animal circuses, check out Born Free USA

5 thoughts on “Ringling Bros Circus: Barbaric and Unnecessary

  1. Nicole

    Ugh! I am so glad I’ve never been to a circus in my life. Elephants are so smart and beautiful animals. Not that you have to be smart or beautiful to be treated with kindness and respect! I’m glad you went out and helped make a statement, people really need stop putting money in these people’s pockets.

    And I must say, after setting up and watching several Cirque shows, that they are a WONDERFUL alternative! Some of the stuff they do makes you really tense just to watch, haha.

  2. Cassy

    Wonderful post! I am ashamed to say that my husband and I used to be “those people” a few years ago, when we went to our first (and only) Ringling Bros. Circus. I even recall walking past a woman and her child protesting the event, which definitely made me question going, but feeling that we were already there and had already paid for the event (yes, I’m ashamed of those feelings too), we continued inside anyways. I’ll never forget that day, because the circus was nothing like I’d imagined it would be. As a child, you always think the circus is full of happy, lively animals, but it is most certainly NOT. It was horrible! You could so easily tell the animals were unhappy, sickly, and mistreated. It all just felt so wrong. And seriously, what the heck are elephants and tigers doing in the middle of a bustling city anyways?! Needless to say, my husband and I left feeling uneasy and disgusted, knowing in our hearts that the we would never be the same. After that day, we educated ourselves, and eventually made the choice to adopt a vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle. If nothing else, protesting these events makes people question their actions, if even for a moment. Just one protester can be the gateway to opening someone’s eyes to the truth of animal cruelty.

    1. Kylie Bennett Post author

      Cassy, thank you so much for sharing your story. You should be proud that you recognized that it was wrong and adopted a cruelty-free lifestyle! I certainly wasn’t born vegan, I ate meat, wore leather – we all need to come around in our own way. I’m glad that there are people like you and your husband out there (among many others) who educate themselves and make the compassionate choice!


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