MARPLES: Circuses must redefine mission so animals receive better treatment
By James A. Marples
The Newton Kansan
Posted Jan 04, 2010 @ 05:10 PM
Back when I was born in 1963, circuses were at the zenith of their popularity.
I always enjoyed going with my parents to the Midian Shrine circus in the Wichita area, the Isis Shrine circus in the Salina area and to the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey circuses, as well.
It was exciting to see the lions, tigers, elephants, bears, monkeys, dogs, horses, zebras and other exotic animals performing in the three-ring acts.
I admire the skill of the flying trapeze artists as well as the professional clowns, jugglers, musicians and the Ringmasters who used their countless abilities to thrill audiences.
Going to the circus inspired me to become a Mason and a Shriner myself — just like my dad.
The circus was a wholesome environment and allowed for a good cross-section of society to mingle with each other.
Rich and poor, young and old, equally enjoyed the circuses. I still am in favor of circuses, but I think they need to re-define their mission.
I no longer wish to see animals pushed to the limit in doing mindless or dangerous tricks. I no longer enjoy seeing a tiger jump through a ring of fire as I formerly did.
I think circuses need to focus on less travelling, and audiences need to become more content in just “observing the animals.”
Zoos perform a valuable function, and I think circuses can still exist if they try to become more animal-friendly.
Freakish carnival acts that abuse animals must be abolished. The travel circuit that uproots animals to maintain the greed-fueled necessity of moving on to the next town, the next audience and the next payday must slow-down and act like a good steward of animal welfare.
Like I say, I am a Shriner myself. But, I think audiences today need to voice their wishes and make it clear to producers as to what they are willing to see — and what they won’t buy a ticket to see in the future.
James A. Marples,
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org