15 January

The End Of The Circus: Killing Elephants, Jobs, Magic, And A Treasured Way Of Life

by Jon Katz
Killing Elephants, Saving Horses

You may know by now that Ringling Bros. Circus is shutting down, after 146 years of operation.

PETA and it’s compliant subsidiary, the U.S. Humane Society, were both gloating this morning, their twisted notion of the rights of animals has just condemned an unknown number of Asian elephants to death and oblivion. They have removed another species from the hearts and minds of children, cost hundreds of people their jobs,  destroyed an old and precious American tradition and a way of life as well.

In my America, the right of people to their own way of life is precious. Whenever it is destroyed, we all suffer. Imagine a world were our only choice is working in corporate office towers and Amazon warehouses. We’re getting there.

The animal rights groups that have pursued Ringling Bros. – the same ones pursuing the New York Carriage Horses – do not ever actually even bother prove abuse or misconduct, they do not need or seek the support of science, experts, the courts, trainers, or animal lovers, they simply harass their targets to death.

In this upside-down, Stalinist world, the accused are presumed guilty, they have no real right or opportunity to defend themselves. Animals are killed en mass by people who claim to support the rights of animals,  but do not. And so many people who claim to love animals send them their hard-earned money to do it.

There were a number of factors leading to the closing of Ringling Bros. Kid’s have their devices, the cost of a traveling circus is rising, relentless and costly animal rights attacks have taken their toll. But a major cause, the company said, was the dramatic decline of ticket sales after the company removed elephants from the circus acts last year.

People – especially children – wanted to see the elephants, they were the magic in the circus, but in the Orwellian world of the animal rights movement, what people want and what animals need do not matter and is not relevant. What matters is that people get to feel good about themselves over the dead bodies of animals and the love and hard work of many people.

The animal rights groups and climate change seem sometimes to be in competition to drive  domesticated animals who have long worked with people and very often been loved by them out of our lives and inexorably towards irrelevance and extinction. A PETA executive exulted on the news this morning over the fact that the Asian elephants of the circus can now be returned to nature and their lives in the wild.

I would love to have asked him exactly how many elephants will survive this sad turn, and who precisely will spent the tens of millions of dollars to care for them for the rest of their lives? The people who sent their checks to PETA don’t  seem to want to know or ask. The Humane Society, created to preserve the lives and welfare of animals does not seem to care.

PETA, like so many politicians, does not  live in the real world. As their books and statements suggest, they simply do not believe animals belong with people. They are trapped in ideology and reality of the past, and of their own self-interest, not facts or truth. There is a lot of money in the animal rights business these days, and no one seems to know where it goes and how it is spent.

While billions of animals suffer daily in industrial farming animal concentration campaigns, PETA and the U.S. Humane Society spends millions of other people’s money to harass pony ride operators, homeless people with dogs,  the New York Carriage Drivers and the Ringling Brothers Circus.

They do not believe in magic, or ever see the magic of animals and people working together, something children from all over the world have seen in circuses and in the carriage rides in Central Park, New York.

They don’t seem to know yet that there is little of the “wild” or nature for the elephants, or for the big horses – Asian elephants have worked with and for people for thousands of years, unlike the African elephants. Some will go to small zoos, the handful of preserves that can care for them, most will be killed, as everyone in the animal world knows. There is no fantasy home to send these animals too, their habitats are overrun with poachers, decimated by development, threatened by climate change and the very high cost of their care.

The animal habits that do exist in Asia are notorious for being under-funded, cruelly maintained and helpless against poaching.

Their one best chance for elephants of surviving in our world where we and their children can see them has just been removed. There is this idea that all of the elephants in the circus have been are being abused and suffer greatly by working and traveling in the circus.

There is certainly evidence that some elephants have been abused and mistreated. There is substantial evidence that most elephants, especially in circuses like Ringling Bros. are well cared for and content, just as the New York Carriages are. They attach very powerfully to their handlers, and vice versa, it is heartbreaking to see and hear of these separations.

Asian elephants are not like killer whales, who have never lived or worked with people or been domesticated. Asian elephants have worked with people for almost all of human history. Many are, like dogs in America, an integral part of family, farming and life. All over Southeast Asia, they still work with people.

We are not only killing off these animals – horses, ponies, elephants – we are killing a way of life. Circus work, like driving a horse carriage, is a magical, even mystical alternative to the proliferating corporate work places, where so many people work in soulless, rote indoor jobs they hate for people who care nothing about them. I sometimes think the great corporate plan is to take all the really free jobs away so there is no choice for any of us at all.

Animals are so often a part of those free lives. It should be easier to work and live with animals, not harder.

The circus is a way of life, as is the carriage trade, for people who wish to live freely and follow a calling, not just  a job. In America, it is a rare thing to hear people say they dearly love their work. You hear it all the time from carriage drivers and circus workers.

I am so sorry for the elephants and their trainers, their persecutors and their unknowing supporters do not know what they do. I keep wanting to apologize them on behalf of the people who truly love and know animals. For the elephants, and for many other vanishing species, the road to Hell is absolutely paved with good intentions.

The New York Carriage Trade has been fending off these outrageously cruel and dishonest assaults for some years now, but it is really no way to live, and they are wearing out, discouraged and fearful for their future. They have survived this long by being especially tough and brave, their opponents especially inept and clumsy. But corporations like Ringling Brothers are never tough or brave. They averse to conflict and struggle and lawyer’s fees. The horses are lucky, the elephants were not.

In America, government is supposed to protect freedom and property, not participate in its destruction. No wonder we are so divided.

In the world of animal rights, as in the grim world of politics, truth seems to have little to do with reality, certainly not the best interests of animals.

How sad that our children will know these animals only on You Tube, we have not only betrayed these amazing creatures, we have betrayed the generations of people coming behind us.

The children of the future will never see the magic of the elephants, and the extraordinary things that elephants and people can do together.  Seeing elephants in the circus was my window in the wonder of talking to animals, seeing them.

Tomorrow’s children will never learn that these animals can remain among us, or that they belong with us. That it is not cruel for elephants and animals to entertain people. That they don’t need to be taken away from the world in the name of the small numbers of people who harm them. I am fortunate to know some elephant trainers and to learn of their love for these animals.

Elephants, like draft horses, are well suited to live and work among people and in urban areas. They have been doing it for thousands of years.

It is not cruel for animals to work with people, to pull carriages, to perform in circuses. It is not demeaning for them to uplift us and make us smile and laugh. Just watch the news. We need it.  It is not old-fashioned for our children to learn something of the world that is real, that they can smell, that is not on a device.

The truth is, it all depends on how well the elephants are love and cared for. Ringling Bros. is well-regarded by veterinarians, behaviorists and trainers for the care they have been giving their elephants in recent years, especially under such intense scrutiny. Animal rights  groups have been fined millions of  dollars by courts for paying circus workers to lie about the elephant’s care.

I noticed two things this morning when I browsed the news.

One was that a Utah mother was arrested and charged with starving ad imprisoning her 12-year-old son in a bathroom for more than a year. Police said the emaciated boy was living in feces and starving down to his showing ribs. They said it was the worst thing they had ever seen.

Thousands of children and women are abused every week in America, no one is proposing banning families, or better yet, abusive men, from our culture.  Instead, we elect them to office.

The story of the 12-year-old boy did not get much media attention the so-called animal rights victory over Ringling Bros. was everywhere.

There is no place for these elephants to go.

If you have supported the  campaign against Ringling Bros., you have just supported the slaughter of healthy, well cared for and innocent animals and the destruction of a way of life. Working animals need to work to be content and healthy, it is not abuse for them to work any more than it is abusive for my border collies to work with sheep.

This decision does not in any way make their lives better. It is the end of life for many of them, and it will support their extinction, not their rescue.  It ends their long history with us, and leaves them more  fragile and unprotected.

The modern animal rights movement knows nothing about the real lives of real animals, and seems to care little about what becomes of them. We need a better and wiser understanding of animals than this.

The second thing I noticed was that many people who read or shared the Ringling Bros. announcement this morning posted pleading messages asking others to let Donald Trump know about Ringling Brother’s decision, they believed he might see the injustice of it and try to help the elephants and the circus workers keep their jobs.

I was struck by how many elephant and animal lovers believed he would understand the injustice of what has happened to Ringling Brothers and the circus workers – many of whom have just lost their homes – and  reach out to help them. They have given up on the so-called “progressives,” people, I suppose, like me.

If you wonder why so many working class people voted for Donald Trump, I would urge you to look at these posts and see the profound damage this runaway political correctness of movements like the animal rights movement have done to the cause of animal welfare.

Instead of turning to people who call themselves progressives and lovers of the environment, they turn in desperation to a political leader who is proud to be reactionary and admits to caring nothing for animals and the environment. He has never even owned a dog. But he does see beyond the blinding ideology of political correctness, and many people love him for that. I doubt he would have much truck with PETA.

Perhaps he is listening, the elephants could use a loud and friendly tweet.

True progressives, humanists, revolutionaries, genuine animal rights lovers and advocates do not campaign to remove well cared for animals from the world, and then brag about the tragedies and pain they they caused. True animal lovers care for the animals, not just themselves. They listen to trainers, veterinarians and behaviorists who know animals and have studied them.

Scientists report that animal species are disappearing at 10,000 times their normal rate. The animal rights movement does not seem to have noticed this, they have just added another species to the list.

Animal lovers do not fight to remove animals from us, they fight to save them, keep them among us, give them meaningful work to do with us in living on this troubled planet.

Ringing Brothers announcement is no victory for any animal or animal lover. We do need a wiser and more mystical understanding of animals than this.

It is now their only hope.

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