Your Guide to the Reality of Animal Circus

"The academic panel concluded that there appears to be little evidence to demonstrate that the welfare of animals kept in travelling circuses is any better or worse than that of animals kept in other captive environments" - Executive Summary of the DEFRA Circus Working Group 2007

Join us on Facebook The WELFARE of Circus animals.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Rouster's Top 10 Hypocritical Anti-Circus Celebrities (Number 6)

Alec Baldwin


Probably the most famous member of the Baldwin family, Alec Baldwin is an American actor who first found fame as a star of the soap opera “Knots Landing”. Since then he has starred in a number of feature films and won several awards. He was also lampooned in the film “Team America” as the leader of the fictional “Film Actors Guild”, a group of actors with extremely liberal politics.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Rouster’s Top 10 Hypocritical Anti-Circus Celebrities (Number 7)

Martin Shaw


Martin Shaw is a respected British actor best known for his TV roles. His breakthrough performance was in the popular crime series “The Professionals” and later in other roles connected to law enforcement. He has a distinctive voice and has done numerous voice overs. He began his career in theatre and has also starred in a few feature films.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

No Dialogue - Just Dogma by Rouster

UPDATE: Mystery solved! Miss Cilly as "Th...Image by sanspareille69 via Flickr

 Despite a high profile propaganda exercise by the various animal-rights charities in the UK earlier this year the UK Government’s agency the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has decided that regulation and not a ban on wild animals in British circuses is the way forward. It is ironic to think that this is something the owners of British circuses have wanted for many years. 

However, in a press release on the 13 December 2011 it was revealed that a number of animal-rights (and pseudo-animal welfare) groups: the RSPCA, Born Free Foundation, Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS), World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), One Kind and Four Paws have decided to boycott any future meetings regarding future licensing of wild animals in circuses.  Their position is clear. They wish a ban and nothing short of that will satisfy them.  Once again they cite dubious propaganda they themselves have been active in promoting to support their position.  See the critic on this blog re the post card campaign by CAPS regarding circuses.

Rouster’s Top 10 Hypocritical Anti-Circus Celebrities (Number 8)

doris day turkeyImage by carbonated via Flickr
Doris Day


Doris Day is one of the most successful female box office stars in cinema history in a career that lasted from 1948 to 1968. She is also a highly successful recording artist. Born in 1924, Day continues to be active and even released an album in 2011 over four decades since her last major hit single, “Move Over Darling”.  

Why are they anti-circus? 

Doris Day became a staunch animal rights activist in 1971. Like her showbusiness career, Day’s “charity” work is also a massive success, winning her acclaim from no less than George W. Bush who presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Rouster’s Top 10 Hypocritical Anti-Circus Celebrities (Number 9)

Brian Blessed


Brian Blessed is a celebrated and well-loved British actor. His distinctive booming voice, which he uses to great effect, can be heard regularly on various adverts, as a guest star on radio dramas and on children’s television characters. Whenever you need a larger than life masculine character you call on Brian Blessed. He is best remembered playing Augustus in “I, Claudius” in his youth, various Shakespearean roles onscreen under the directorship of Kenneth Branagh, as a grown-up fantastical imagining of Richard IV in the original “The Black Adder” series and as the winged Prince Vultan in the ultra-camp “Flash Gordon” motion picture. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

Rouster’s Top 10 Hypocritical Anti-Circus Celebrities (Number 10)

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09:  Actor John Net...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
 John Nettles 


John Nettles, British actor (writer and historian) that became a household name in the UK when he starred as Jersey Detective Sergeant Jim Bergerac in the series “Bergerac” in the 1980s and later as Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby in “Midsomer Murders”. 

Why they are anti-animal circus? 

Rouster’s Top 10 Hypocritical Anti-Circus Celebrities (Introduction)

English: Hypocrisy Русский: ЛицемерImage via WikipediaBack in October Rouster put up a fun public internet poll to vote on who readers of "Astley's Legacy" considered to be the anti-circus celebrity with the most egregious double standards.


Celebrities are, by their nature, in positions of influence. Purely on the basis of their fame others look up to them as role models. When they lend their support to anything from an item of clothing to a political cause, we know the world (or at least the celebrity’s native country or fanbase) are going to take notice. Charities and political organizations know this fact. It is small wonder that PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) work hard to keep their association with celebrities and use them extensively to push their campaigns and their ideology. Such groups also know that whereas production companies, fashion houses and record labels might have to pay a fortune to use the services of a celebrity, a group that puts itself forward as either a charity or charity-like has a powerful bargaining chip that can mean more than your average pay cheque. By being seen to support a sympathetic cause the celebrity boosts their public image. They add another dimension to their outward persona. Suddenly they are “not just a pretty face”.  

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Use of Salivary Cortisol to Assess the Welfare of Elephants by Immanuel Birmelin (Society of Animal Behaviour Research)

Deutsch: Strukturformel von Cortisol English: ...Image via Wikipedia
This is a report  about Stress Levels in Circus Elephants  as presented by Dr Immanuel Birmelin, the well known German Animal Behaviourist to the ‘2011 International Elephant and Rhino Conservation and Research Symposium’ hosted by The Rotterdam Zoo International Elephant Foundation between 10th and 14th October 2011.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

When the Camera Lies by Rouster

English: Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) cubs.Image via Wikipedia 

“Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.” - Benjamin Franklin

On the 12th December 2011 the British media reported that a certain scene in episode 5 of David Attenborough's high profile documentary series "Frozen Planet" had been faked. The scene involved the birth of a polar bear cub, where perhaps one of the world's (or at least the UK's) most famous nature commentators told viewers the scene was happening "beneath the snow". A "making of" video on the BBC website revealed this scene had actually been filmed in a German zoo.

Monday, 12 December 2011

A Slippery Slope Down the Big Top? By Gordon Bysshe

Slippery SlopesImage by Kevin Saff via Flickr
Rouster presents Gordon Bysshe's début article on this blog, discussing the validity of the argument that banning wild animals in circuses is just beginning of anarchic animal rights influence...

The slippery slope argument is a tempting logical fallacy asserting that if one moderate thing happens in a certain direction then it is inevitable more extreme things will follow until we reach an excessive point. However, it ceases to become a fallacy if one can prove why each stage will lead to a more extreme stage. Many who face the wrath of legislation, policies or laws that are the result of animal rights pressure, have been known to cry “This is just the thin end of the wedge! If you stop our animal industry then others will follow”. Is this a desperate cry for help? Perhaps, but before we begin to allow the animal rights philosophy a slight degree of latitude maybe we should consider one thing. Animal rightists, by the statement of their intentions and their very actions, they don’t deny this argument.

Friday, 9 December 2011

More Press Note the Animal Rights/Animal Welfare Distinction (c/o Portland Insight)

You have to look pretty hard, but here and there you find lone journalists who do not just jump on and run with the easy and emotive animal rights propaganda that is so readily available. With the exceptions of the Andrew McKies, Dominic Lawsons and Kenan Maliks of this fair island, most UK journalists are happy to hit us with headlines about animal abuse fed to them by groups with very dodgy and extremist agendas. The US seem to be a little more aware. Here Patti Strand, co-author of "Hijacking the Humane Movement", tells the "Portland Insight" about the dangers of going off the animal welfare path and down the animal rights route to dogma as new animal laws are being considered. Please click on the below title to read this insightful article.

Animal rights activists often go too far

Thursday, 8 December 2011

HSUS Spending Editorial (c/o Animal Finder's Guide and Humane Watch)

Following on from yesterday's disturbing news that a former HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) - according to their accounts, the world's largest animal rights group - is now serving as a chief enforcer for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the above Christmas editorial in the American journal "The Animal Finder's Guide" was a small relief. It is good to see that some people involved in the animal industry understands the real threat of animal groups like HSUS. The editorial, written by the very informative animal rights watch group Humane Watch, states its case clearly in the opening paragraph: 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Wake up America! (from "Sawdust and Spangles")

Logo for the United States Animal and Plant He...Image via Wikipedia "Wake up America!  The Infiltration continues .... Why is Sarah L. Conant serving as the chief enforcer for APHIS within the USDA? Her last employer (assuming she is no longer still collecting a check from them) was the Humane Society of the United States. HSUS is the world's largest animal rights organization, yet nobody said a word when USDA hired her. Why not?"

- Spangles and Sawdust Blog

This is certainly disturbing news. APHIS = "Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service" of the USDA = US Dept of Agriculture = not somewhere you want to find an HSUS employee (ex or otherwise ....... foxes and chicken coops etc)

Sadly in a world gone mad it almost certainly would be a case of discrimination if Conant were refused the position, but we are talking about someone opposed to animals in agriculture being put in a position of power over food production = PC madness!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Animal Welfare in Circus is Perfect (Part 2) by Terry Bunton


Circus aerialist and professional artist, Terry Bunton continues his passionate cry for reason against animal rights lunacy and the case for animal circuses...

What separates humans from other animal species is that we have a grammatical communication which has given us a way to educate future generations, form political alliances, play sports, cook our food, make personal choices through democracy, learn, pass exams to get qualifications, record the past, plan the future and organise the present. Yes, animals have memory and cognitive response to varying degrees, depending on species, but they do not have any of the above skills. 

However, the animal rights dogma perverts the Darwinian path and often twists to ridiculously silly ideas. For example, amongst thesefundamentalist militants there are even a few of those who have concluded thatbecause chimpanzees are the closest to use genetically, they should be givenVOTING RIGHTS!  Meanwhile uninformed pet owners and those who choose to eat meat and wear by-products such as shoes, belts and coats who are lured into supporting an animal rights campaign are unknowingly funding a dogma, which aims to take away these freedoms. Animal rights organizations are known for issuing aggressive propaganda targeted at parents and their children by declaring all meat-eaters to be murderers and the innocent practice of the family day out to the zoo or an animal circus to be a “wicked activity”.

Lies, Damn Lies and CAPS Leaflets by Anna Webb

Truth liesImage via Wikipedia
No, you are not seeing triple. This is the third time Rouster thought it was appropriate to paraphrase the famous quote that Mark Twain attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and now often used to describe the misuse of statistical information. However, it is no less fitting in this instance. Anna Webb was inspired to write about her frustrations on the shamelessness of the anti-circus group CAPS (Captive Animal Protection Society) and their latest postcard/leaflet.

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics" goes the phrase. This has never been truer than in one of the recent CAPS (the Captive Animals’ Protection Society) leaflets. Take a look at this:

Friday, 2 December 2011

Animal Welfare in Circus is Perfect (Part 1) by Terry Bunton

TIME FLIES.....................*Image by Neal. via Flickr 
I have come to notice how many of our contributors reflect on time and how it relates to animal circuses. The changing of times in particular. Anna Webb originally remarked on this in her general discussion on "Our Changing Relationship with Animals". Now, in his début piece on "Astley's Legacy", circus aerialist and professional artist, Terry Bunton expresses his thoughts on the result of 30 years of anti-circus campaigning. Terry has appeared on several radio shows defending animal circuses and high-lighting the real threat of animal rights activism. An artist that has no connection with animal acts whatsoever, be it directly, through family or business, Terry's passion seems all the more heartfelt...
For two centuries up until about three decades ago, almost everyone in the UK visited circuses with animals at least annually.  Although it had always been their policy to oppose animal circuses the RSPCA had a begrudging respect for circus people and even awarded wild animal trainers for excellent husbandry.  Circus was regularly seen by millions of people on television as part of the norm.  And it was also one of our country’s most famous circus families that invented huge safari parks where circus animal were often retired.  Yet NOTHING (in Britain especially) is the victim of such ill-informed hysteria by the minority as the use of animals in circuses. 

Monday, 14 November 2011

The ASPCA’s dead horse - New York Post

ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Division patchImage via Wikipedia I am happy to see that more journalist are beginning to see the way animal rights ideology is impregnating mainstream thinking. As we have discussed many times on this blog, AR gets its initial support by hi-jacking environmentalism and humane/animal welfare groups. The ASPCA like the British RSPCA is a prime example of this sort of process. Both have swayed back and forth off the animal welfare/animal rights barrier. This report by the New York post observes how no less than a veterinary advisor employed by the ASPCA effectively lied about the demise of a carriage horse. It traces the incentive for this falsehood back to the increasing influence of groups like PeTA (People for the ethical Treatment of Animals) and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States).  

Wrong Approach to Animal Rights - Washington Times

The Washington Times newsroomImage via WikipediaOnce in a while you get a journalist that sees through the smoke and mirrors of Animal Rights propaganda. In the UK we had the lone voices of Dominic Lawson and Andrew McKie give the argument for the defence against the backbench push for a ban on wild animals in UK travelling circuses. Recently in the US ADI (Animal Defenders International) spearheaded a press campaign with Rep. James P. Moran to launch legislation that would effectively ban the use of wild animals in US circuses. Most journalists just love the emotional content of "people protecting animals" and the use of celebrities like Jorja Fox and Bob Barker. It's an easy story and an easy job. Circuses are a minority in the grand scheme of things and therefore a soft target. However, there are those who have experience with good animal circuses who would argue that this is unfair. This is great and I would say they largely have science on their side. However, there are also those like Washington Times journalist Charles W. Stenholm who sees the real issue here. The animal rightists and their attempt to appear reasonable and "moderate"...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Channel 4 Action News Report

Elephants performing at the Ringling Bros. and...Image via WikipediaAs Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus visit Pittsburgh audiences were treated to a rare news item on circuses that did not smack of animal rights propaganda. Admittedly this particular report is as biased as hell, but it at least provides an elephant trainer, Joe and Joey Frisco, and the circus they work for, Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, with an opportunity to put their side of the story forward.

And so they should. After a decade of a focused legal attack on the alleged mistreatment of their animals by Born Free USA, backed up by several other animal rights organizations, RBBB have vindicated themselves in court. A common animal rights tactic is to plant an undercover operative in an animal establishment. This is how they obtain

Monday, 7 November 2011

More Feedback on June 2011 "debate"

Silent MajorityImage by cbcastro via FlickrBecause the words of other angry citizens of the UK are usually drowned out by the shrill and aggressive opinions of animal rights supporters, the internet provides us with an opportunity to set the balance right. Previously I posted up feedback from a supporter of the British circus who took huge issue with the "debate" on 23rd June in Parliament regarding a movement to ban wild animals in travelling circuses.  The same writer, who wishes to remain anonymous due the potential of receiving death threats or violence from the animal rights movement, contacted me with her further comments of this rather ludicrous discussion that has provided impetus for the various animal rights organizations in the UK to push for a ban on wild animals in circuses. The writer, whilst clearly impassioned and emotional about the whole issue, makes some valid points, which I think readers of this blog will find interesting...

Friday, 4 November 2011

US Circus "Witch Hunt" Begins

Persecution of witchesImage via Wikipedia    U.S. Congressman Jim Moran (D-Virginia, 1991-p...Image via WikipediaOur gratitude to "The Circus No Spin Zone" for alerting Rouster to the below video and the inspiration for the title of this post. On 2nd November the UK animal rights group ADI (Animal Defenders International) were invited, along with PAWS and celebrities Bob Barker ("The Price is Right" and Jorja Fox "CSI"), by Virginia congressman Jim Moran, to back the Travelling Exotic Animal Protection Act. This bill is clearly targeted at travelling circuses as it exempts zoos, aquariums, research laboratories and rodeos. Circuses were the only example of a transient exhibition mentioned throughout the conference.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Animal Rights or Animal Wrongs? How far would YOU go? by Anna Webb

Sympathetic (red) and parasympathetic (blue) n...Image via Wikipedia
 Anna Webb's presents an excellent little essay discussing the knee-jerk reaction and cultivation of emotions of the animal rights philosophy. She presents a wonderfully succinct argument that puts forward the case that the animal rights movement snares susceptible ground supporters through extremist propaganda - referred to as "animal porn" rather cynically in some animal rights circles - and then works around an irrational philosophy. This latter point is interesting, given that the author of "Animal Liberation", Peter Singer, is an atheist and has done a good job of seducing secular academics. Singer likes to position the Animal Rights argument as an example of how science can be considered to be more ethical than religion. Unfortunately despite Singer's credentials as an evolutionary biologist his argument for Animal Rights is not one that corresponds with mainstream scientific opinion. What he has done is to create a dogma of his own and shrouded it in science. Ayn Rand pretty much did the same thing with her "cult of rationality", Objectivism. Stalinism and Maoism are also comparable. They are all atheist-based or secular philosophies, but are warped by a type of absolutism that is far removed from the methods of science...

Eurojust and Europol Hold Joint Conference on Animal Rights Extremism

Europol building in The HagueImage via WikipediaMy apologies for the tardiness of this post. Sadly the fact that this press release has only just come to our attention seems to be further proof of the lack of interest our media has in the investigation into the activities of animal rights activism

The Animal Liberation Front  has long been listed on the FBI's top 10 domestic terrorist threats. It is comparable with the "Earth Liberation Front", which has been listed as the number one domestic terrorist threat.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Feld Entertainment, Inc. Wins Appeal in Case Brought by ASPCA and Other Animal Special Interest Groups

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey CircusImage via Wikipedia"Astley's Legacy" was formed as an independent blog. We are no-one's puppet or propaganda machine. There are plenty of things circuses have done in the past and certain things they do now that the majority of our writers do not agree with. No circus is perfect and no animal trainer is perfect either. Although we hold that the fundamentals of animal training via traditional circus are correct and in line with Animal Welfare considerations held by the rest of mainstream animal businesses, we are always interested in pushing for improvements. Having said this, due to a lack of time we thought it best to report this important news verbatim from the side of an argument who we all largely support. Please see below the recent press release issued by Feld Entertainment, as it announces its eventual legal victory over a vicious campaign set up by the animal rights movement... 

Friday, 28 October 2011

A Forgotten Hero? By David Hibling

I am delighted to introduce a piece written especially for this blog by David Hibling. David has an extensive background in circus - with particular experience in British circus. He is and has been an animal trainer, a ringmaster, an administrator and an artistic director for most of the major circuses in his lifetime. This essay reflects on the release of a new movie that features the namesake of this blog, the inventor of the modern circus Philip Astley...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

PeTA: Slave to Dogma by John Dineley

Caricature Slavery 1738Image via Wikipedia

Just when you thought that PeTA couldn't get any more extreme with its plan to produce pornographic films interspersed with scenes of animal abuse we see them spending yet more of their gullible supporters' money in an inane court case against the marine parks group Sea World. PeTA are trying to sue the park citing the USA 13th Amendment against human slavery and twisting this law to include five killer whales.

Sea World actually owns 24 killer whales. These five are the only ones that were caught in the wild - the last in 1983 some 28 years ago. The other 19 animals were all born in captive care and this is a tribute to the excellent care Sea World gives to it animals. And as pointed out by some commentators this is also an abuse of the 13th Amendment and an insult to many humans that are still in real slavery around the world who would gladly swap their lifestyle to be treated like the whale at Sea World.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Celebs Beware! PeTA is not your friend

Matt Damon - TIFF 09Image by Bucajack via FlickrI recently did a web search on celebrities that openly spoke out against the animal rights movement. After all, I don't like to be a pessimist about this sort of thing. Many people bemoan that our public figures are intellectually inept, fickle and superficial compared to the great poets, philosophers, authors, playwrights and politicians of yesteryear. Sadly you have to dig quite deep. Putting it simply, the public profile benefits of supporting the animal rights movement in some way seem to outweigh opposing them. At least they do in the short term. Imagine the "dilemma" typically faced by a celebrity or their agent:

Support our animal rights campaign and we will put you more in the public eye, and show you to be compassionate and caring. Oppose the animal rights movement and you will receive a lot of abuse - anything from being lobbied by protesters to receiving death threats or even physically assaulted (as was the case with musician Ted Nugent).

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Child Exploitation, the "95%" Myth and Other Persistant Annoyances

TearsImage by TimOve via Flickr
Britain is famous for it's double standards. In his "Notes on the English Character", the great writer E.M. Forster addressed (and largely agreed with) the charge that Britain is "the island of hypocrites". Despite opposing the supposed exploitation of animals in circuses, many animal rights supporters and their organizations have no issue whatsoever with exploiting their indoctrinated offspring to provide effective emotional clout to their campaigns. At the forefront we have four year-old Gabriel Ryan who is being carted all over the UK to push his mother's political ideology and has been turned into a rather disturbing symbol for the 2011 "Animals takes the Smiles out of Circus" campaign. The militant animal rights group, CAPS (Captive Animal Protection Society), showcased a photo of young Gabriel wearing a full lion costume complete with make-up that displays a painted-on tear. It matches a blown-up picture that was showcased on CAPS' banner, which they displayed on their 3rd October protest at the Conservative conference in Manchester. Gabriel caught media attention when the poor little soul was displayed outside Bobby Roberts Super Circus in a full clown costume displaying his trademark painted tear (actually a CAPS trademark when you look at their logo of a performing elephant) and holding a hand-painted rendition of the aforementioned CAPS campaign slogan in Knutsford, Cheshire on 30th March. The photo by Christopher Furlong evoked so much pathos that it has taken on a life of its own on the net, as a virtual symbol of sentimentality.

Friday, 23 September 2011

The Beauty of Reason by Anna Webb

HaflingerImage via Wikipedia

Once again a piece  by Anna Webb who is fast becoming the Queen of this blog. The plain common sense in her writing shines out, it makes editing very difficult but it does make for compulsive reading   

My dad is fond of a saying: “Under 30 if you are not a communist you have no heart. Over 30 if you are still a communist you have no brain”. Ignoring the politics, I broadly agree with the concept. Most people start out in life with dreamy ideals, and over time reality beats them into a completely different shape. That seems to be part of the natural process of growing up and gathering experiences, and, while giving up a utopia is sad, I can’t see any problem with it. What I do see a problem with is quite the opposite – people who hold ideals and ethics that make no practical sense, without any basis on reality, and which sometimes would result in very negative outcomes if they were carried out.

Born Free Killers? by John Dineley

FeraeImage via Wikipedia
John Dineley strips away the appeals to nature and emotion as well as the attractive veneer of the silver screen and pseudo-reality of the natural history documentary, and takes a closer look at the facts surrounding the celebrated releases of animal from captivity to their wild state. 

We all love a happy ending to a story.  Don’t we?  It’s that feel good factor and with animal stories even more so.  It is however sadly true that most modern urban humans have very little idea about the wild world or the behaviour of wild animals and how we - for what ever reason – can dramatically affect these animals behaviour even when the intentions are considered honourable. 

In an earlier blog the term Disneyfication was used to describe the rather deluded relationship many people have in the way they view the natural world and our relationship with it.  Disney is, of course, not the only ones guilty of presenting animals both real and imagined in a stilted and anthropomorphic way, and whilst many of us certainly realise that “The Lion King” is a cartoon and that lions don’t talk or philosophize sometimes so-called "true stories" develop myths of their own.

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Cove. Sometimes even award winning films are not quite what they seem.

Dolphins at Loro Parque, in Tenerife island (S...Image via Wikipedia
The Cove is the 2009 award winning documentary exposing the annual drive fisheries hunt of dolphins and whales in the whaling village of Taiji.  Many have rightly been very concerned regarding this hunting methods and questioned both its operation on moral, ethical and animal welfare grounds.  However, once again we see members of the animal-rights industry trying to hi-jack these concerned to promote their own agenda against the care of animals in zoos and aquariums.


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Sunday, 11 September 2011

Dreaming of Bears by Anna Webb

Line art drawing of a black bear.Image via Wikipedia

A piece of beautiful writing with some extraordinarily insightful comments from Anna Webb 

Dreaming of bears

As a young child in the 70s, I remember going to Disney matinees early on a Sunday. These were the days before videos (in fact for me these were the days before colour television) so watching cartoons on the big screen was a huge treat. My favourite bit, however, were the short animal documentaries they used to show at the start. I was too young to remember the details, but some images I will remember forever. A giant bird of prey (eagle?) taking a deer right up into the sky, to drop it to its death. Raccoons like naughty, furry elves. Seemingly endless hills covered in pine forests. For a city child, this was a different world – probably depicted quite inaccurately for show, admittedly, but magical nonetheless. Watching those movies gave me a love for nature and conservation that I don’t think I would have developed otherwise, purely because there was no nature in my life – I was surrounded by concrete. The movie I loved above all others, the one that I wished for every time even though I’d seen it a million times already, the one that made me squeal with delight when it came on, was the one about the bears.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Absurdity of Exploiting Trained Animals

KNUTSFORD, ENGLAND - MARCH 30: Police officers...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

This is another piece written from the heart with passion and commitment, emotions that unite  animal trainers with those who work with and look after animals whether they be in the entertainment industry  or private individuals. No-one can doubt the sincerity of the author and indeed we should applaud the  common sense way in which the whole debate is explained in simple terms , something we could all learn a lesson from. Sadly animals rights terrorism means that the author cannot be named for their own personal security

This article succinctly sums up the whole issue about exploitation. Exploitation is a very subjective word when it comes to reasoning human beings let alone creatures that don't govern themselves by morals and laws. We could argue that the four-year old child pictured here is being exploited. He is clearly way to young to vote and way too young to be considered to have the right reasoning capacity to decide his politics. However, by admission of his proud mother, Gabriel Ryan has been transported a long distance across the country (and will do again) to protest her cause! Any way, my rant is over. Please read on...

So you think PeTA and other animal-rights groups don't support terrorists?

Tribute in Light, 9/11/03Image by Brendan Loy via Flickr
At the time of writing this, it is coming up to 10 years since 9/11 when terrorists crashed three planes into the Twin Towers buildings in New York and The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia killing not only themselves but also just under 3000 men, women and children. 

One of the responses to these tragic events was the Homeland Security Act of 2002 creating the Department of Homeland Security whose main tasks was to protect the mainland USA against the attacks from terrorists.  In May 2008 United States Department of Homeland Security’s National Preparedness Directorate prepared a briefing document entitled: “Ecoterrorism: Environmental and Animal-Rights Militants in the United States”.  

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Martin Shaw is hard to "Bear"

Martin Shaw joins the increasing list of  celebrities that demonstrate both an ignorance for what they represent and a willingness to change their position as it suits them. Previously we reported that Jane Goodall was having to justify her decision to open Edinburgh Zoo's new chimpanzee exhibit when animal rightists criticized her in The Independent newspaper. Goodall's response was no different from the argument provided by keepers of captive wild animals who have to suffer abuse and criticism from those who usually support her cause. Now anti-vivisectionist Martin Shaw, who is a patron of anti-animal circus organization Born Free, has fronted BFF campaigns against animal circuses and is an avowed animal rightist (as opposed to an animal welfarist), was confronted on BBC's "The One Show" with his previous not-so-hostile relationship with animal circuses.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

PeTA bearing false witness

False WitnessImage by topicagnostic via FlickrIt is not rare for PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) or any animal rights group to be accused of covertly setting up situations inside animal companies.  We in the circus community have seen examples of it many times. There is a history of cases where activists have been called to account for this most egregious form of spying activity. Few people can argue that undercover work can sometimes be the only real tactic that works and direct action can be justified. However, creating situations that are not real and falsifying evidence is a different matter altogether...

Click here for Wesley J. Smith's revealing report on G.W. Exotic Animal Park.

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Monday, 5 September 2011

‎" Disneyfication and our changing relationship with animals" by Anna Valdiserri

Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsImage by BetterWorks via Flickr
This excellent article provides a wonderful juxtaposition of the differing needs between humans and non-human animals. It also makes a good argument for how metaphor and fantasy have become confused in our cultural mindset when comes to having compassion for animals. She uses the term "Disneyfication", which has been applied before in a derogative sense to a whole range of issues in our culture where the influence of the works of the world's second largest entertainment company have seriously impaired people's perceptions of the world. 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

"Independent" are at it again

Young chimpanzees from Jane Goodall sanctuary ...Image via WikipediaAmazing! This year it would appear that the so-called Independent newspaper have really got the animal rights bug, especially when it comes to the soft target of animals in captivity. They got a taste for attacking animal circuses in a big way after being fed a lot of information, misinformation and disinformation from animal rights groups in the lead up to a debate in Parliament over the use of wild animals in circuses. Then without any sense of irony whatsoever, two of their journalists wrote two gleaming reviews for two nostalgic documentaries in the Time Shift series ("All the Fun at the Fair" and "When the Circus Came to Town") that looked back a the impact of the travelling fairs and circuses in the UK. The paper has been criticized before for changing from a broadsheet to a tabloid and for furthering radical ideas from the left. It is Rouster's opinion that left/right politics really aren't the issue when it comes to discussing animal rights and animal welfare. However, many animal rights philosophers have tried to pervert leftist ideas towards Animal Rights ideology. In order for one to really do this, you have to first accept that animals are eligible to have rights in the same way as humans do. The Independent clearly took the bait with gusto when it came to their campaign and petition to get wild animals banned in circuses. But when these two documentaries put across the very true point that the travelling exhibition and show institution were practices regularly built up through the working classes to provide entertainment for the working classes, it predictably hit the right nerve in a different way.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Feedback on the June 23 "debate"

The crowned portcullis, symbol of the Parliame...Image via WikipediaRecently the below letter was sent to me in response to the "debate" held in the House of Commons over a proposed ban on wild animals in circuses. Readers of this blog may be aware that David Konyot wrote a piece describing his feelings towards this rather sad example of British politics called "Democracy?" There were also the essays written by Dominic Lawson, "A Commons Circus of Animals and Fools" and Andrew McKie's "There is no Logical Reason to Ban Animals in Circuses". Both of which went against the grain being enforced by the sensationalist press and rabid animal rights brigade to present the real facts of the issue. 

Here a circus person, who wishes to remain anonymous due to genuine fear of Animal Rights targeting, wished to make their point. It is a heartfelt response that reminds us of those whose heritage and culture are affected by the opportunistic backbench politicking Prichard and his supporters engaged in on over the early summer period: 

MP Mark Pritchard who led claimed the government whip had tried to stop the debate. Labour MP Denis McShane and Lib Dem MP Don Foster asked him to explain and elaborate - which he did at great length – although what the whip said or didn’t say had nothing to do with animals in circus.

Monday, 22 August 2011

PeTA - Nothing to laugh about?

PETA logoImage via WikipediaPeople for the ethical Treatment of Animals is perhaps the world's most vocal animal rights organization. And the philosophy they preach is undeniably that of Animal RIGHTS as opposed to Animal WELFARE. For the unreconcilable differences to these two philosophies please consult a list of "Important Essays" on the sidebar. As animal rightists they are famed for the slogan "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy". In fact, their militant stance that puts animals at least at the same level as a "retarded human child", is representative in the way their campaigns shamelessly juxtapose scenes of real and apparent animal suffering with that of humans i.e. comparing factory farming with

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Mystery of the Muddy Feet: The Aftermath

"Astley's Legacy" contributor Gail Wilmot wrote about her online experience with a supposed expose of circus animal abuse back in July by one of the Pony Box members.  The true story was an egregious example of using the political football of animal circus to tell a tall tale. Gail's own investigation resulted in her contacting the Kentucky Horse Council who confirmed that the photograph posted by the "heroic" exposer of animal abuser was taken from an entirely different incidence being described. It now looks like this whole episode has reached something a satisfactory conclusion. However, what with a recent ongoing undisclosed animal circus issue with the Press Complaints Commission that reveals bad journalism on the part of major national UK paper, one cannot help but be concerned about how much unjust propaganda is freely banded about animal circuses as the moment.  Please see the below link to the official respnse by the Pony Box website: 

Ponybox Letter Of Correction For Abused Circus Horse Story


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Friday, 12 August 2011

The Public Voted with their Feet - Brian Boswell Responds!

As reported on here, the British ex-broadsheet newspaper laughingly known as "The Independent" has waged a campaign against UK animal circuses this year. This included a very easy to corrupt online petition and a regular series of one-sided articles that barely pretended to consult the views of those who worked in or supported animal circuses. However, readers on here might be interested to know that South Africa's equivalent, "The Independent on Saturday", has also published material concerning the debate. They published letters from Animal Rights advocates who criticized the South African family circus, "Brian Boswell's Circus". Fortunately this paper is willing to show a greater sense of fairness than its more radical UK cousin and agreed to publish the following letter sent by Brian Boswell himself. This letter is a brilliant demonstration of the argument in favour of animal circuses, addressing its critics and educating those who occupy the vast middle ground in the facts surrounding the debate... 

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Cult of TV Celebrity by John Dineley

I find Charlie Brooker a very good albeit irreverent pundit on the media.  He has produced a number of series on this subject, particularly television and has latest series showen in the UK on BBC 2 “How TV Ruined Your Life” was broadcast earlier this year.

The six part series examined the influence of the television media and how it has become all pervasive and in many ways misleading peoples vision of the real world.  The episode entitled “Knowledge” examined the rise of news presentation and the documentary and how it has been distorted since scholarly and seminal works such as Clark’s “Civilisation” and Bronowski’s “Ascent of Man” were produced in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.