Circus is NO Fun for the Tigers

Avatar BCR | April 5, 2009 52 Views 0 Likes 0 Ratings

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Dear Kellie,

You were lied to if ANYONE told you that tigers perform natural acts in the circus ring.  As someone with more than 20 years experience with big cats, and with 137 of them we have rescued from acts like the Rosaire's, I can assure you that the animals used in such acts are beaten, starved and tormented into doing the stupid pet tricks that hold the ignorant enthralled. 

Being ignorant is no crime as long as you are willing to learn when the truth is presented.  The masses need the media to be better informed on such subjects so that they are not compelled to go out and support animal abuse.  Kay Rosaire told a crowd, that I was sitting in, that the way to keep a tiger off you is to "poke 'em with a pitchfork real hard and show 'em who's boss." 

The following sums the issue up by Kerry Ashmore of The Northeaster

Numerous thorny issues cloud the debate over how humans treat animals. One issue coming quickly to Minneapolis, however, has a clear and easy correct answer. We urge Minneapolis City Council members to ban wild animal circus performances in the city.

This will not require all of us to become vegetarians. It won't ban laboratory research. It won't be a death sentence for any animal that bites a human. Minneapolis taxpayers would simply be refusing to allow people to make money in the city through capturing and training wild animals, and would be foregoing any money the city and local businesses might make if the circus came to town.

This issue is similar to some other thorny issues, however, in that many people will oppose the ban because they don't want to believe that circuses are necessarily cruel to animals. To support the ban, they would have to admit that the whole concept of capturing and
training wild animals for human entertainment and enrichment is, and always has been, wrong; and that they have been wrong for not doing everything they could to ban the practice decades ago. Who wants to admit to something like that?

Our advice to them: Deal with it.

Yes, we humans have been wrong all along, and this is a baby step toward making things right.

Those who don't want the ban will be quick to point to violent and illegal acts people have committed in the name of ending animal cruelty, and suggest that seeking to end animal cruelty somehow indicates that one condones such acts. That simply doesn't pass the common sense test, and those who bring such incidents into the discussion are essentially admitting that they can't come up with a reasonable defense for the way animals are treated in a circus setting. This shouldn't come as a surprise, because there is no reasonable defense for it.

Some local people will lose some money if the ban is passed. Circus people stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants and spend money in local stores. Our wise and resourceful officials can replace the circus with other events that don't cause us to support unconscionable acts toward beings who, because of human intervention, are no longer able to defend themselves.

Humans, with complete freedom of movement and superior reasoning capability, grow weary of "life on the road," and with good reason. Circus animals are caged and moved from town to town, forced to perform unnatural acts and then caged and moved to yet another town for yet another performance. The best efforts of the most kind- hearted people in the world cannot make this process humane. It is cruel by its nature.

It's unlikely that the circus people think that what they're doing is inhumane. It's only when city after city after city closes its doors that they will ask, "Why?" and perhaps begin to have second thoughts about the way animals have to be treated if they are to provide money- making entertainment to humans.

When and if our society becomes truly civilized, such entertainment will be banned entirely. Those animal-protection laws don't exist now, and there isn't a legal way to stop circus use of animals.

Minneapolis (or Pittsburgh), however, has a chance to take one simple, straightforward action, and become the 29th American city to close its doors to wild animal circuses. It's an action Minneapolis (or Pittsburgh) council members should take without delay, without regret and without dissent.

CC: Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

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Shrine Circus brings exotic entertainment to Mellon

By Kellie B. Gormly
Thursday, April 3, 2008

This weekend, tigers will leap, trapeze artists will fly through the air, motorcycles will do 360s in spherical cages, acrobats will perform daredevil stunts and goofy clowns will entertain during several Shrine Circus performances at the Mellon Arena.

With the Shrine Circus, you get it all — whether you're a child, adult or grandparent, there is something you'll love, says Paul Levy, the Pittsburgh chairman and promoter for the Shrine Circus, which plays Friday through Sunday.

"It still continues to be the least-expensive family show that comes into Mellon Arena," Leavy says.

The features and acts in this year's Shrine Circus include three elephants that do tricks; Rocky the Boxing Kangaroo; dogs that catch and return Frisbees; and the famous "Grandma the Clown," a celebrity goofball from the Big Apple Circus. The other Shrine Circus clowns perform numerous high jinks, including a trampoline act. The Incredible Hulk also will make an appearance at the circus.

One of the circus' most popular acts features five "Terrific Tigers" from the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Sarasota, Fla. Clayton Rosaire — whose family owns the sanctuary that has 33 tigers and lions, plus other wild animals like bears and monkeys — leads the circus' tiger act, which is set to the theme song from "The Pink Panther" cartoon.

The tiger troupe includes the colossal, 750-pounder named Conan, whom Rosaire calls the comic relief of the group. Conan is known for his funny facial expressions and other entertaining body movements and interactions with his trainer, like hitting Rosaire with his tail.

"He's a one in a million … and a great guy," Rosaire says of Conan, who he calls a "big Baby Huey."

Rosaire's tigers do all kinds of movements in their ring to entertain the audience. Yet, everything they do is natural behavior for the tigers, he says.

"The only difference is we train them to do it in a routine sequence," Rosaire says.

The big cats, he says, learn to perform based on positive reinforcement and rewards, with things like food and praise, says Rosaire, a ninth-generation family worker with exotic animals. He often gives the tigers shish-kebab meat for a reward during circus shows.

"You have to make it fun, and you have to make it interesting," Rosaire says. "You really have to watch the cats and read them and teach them accordingly."

After a lifetime of working with these exotic cats, Rosaire, an only child, calls the felines "the brothers and sisters I never had." Although the tigers are wild predators by nature, Rosaire says he has such a warm and close relationship with them that he is as comfortable around tigers as people are around their pet housecats.

Audience enthusiasm means a lot to the tigers, who can sense when people are excited, and feed off of that, Rosaire says.

"That's why we like doing these shows," he says. "Sometimes, people forget how beautiful these animals really are, and how majestic they are."

Kellie B. Gormly can be reached at or 412-320-7824.

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