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

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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Reflection on recent events by Gail Wilmot

In the British tradition of Miss Marple and others, Gail Wilmott proved herself to be something of a efficient amateur sleuth when she uncovered an example of how freely people lie about circus animals. Since then Gail has reflected on the injustices faced by perhaps the UK's most poorly represented culture. She discusses the way a mainstream tabloid happily took the role as minister for propaganda for the Animal Rights lobbyists with a very easy to corrupt internet petition (below is a screen shot taken in real time, showing shameless multiple entries on this petition). She also discusses how MPs happily responded to these lobbyists in Parliament without attempting to view the other side of the story...

In my article about the Circus “Rescue” story being aproven FAKE I mentioned how low the animal rights people will stoop to get their intimidating lies and non-factual information out there. So I thought I'd add some more on the subject.

For some reason The Independent newspaper teamed up with representatives of the Animal Rights movement and started to print articles that were not researched, and again, made up of non-factual information. Information that was clearly fed directly to them by said Animal Rights groups. The Independent brought attention to the public by using old and out-dated footage and by adding misleading photographs of animals not even appearing at this time in any UK Circus. The photographs even included examples of “tricks”, such as jumping through fire-hoops, that haven’t appeared in British circus for almost two decades.

Many a debate has been argued in the forums for these articles. The animal rights supporters would try to argue by claiming 'abuse' and 'cruelty' were a part of a Circus kept animals life. The Circus Community came back with factual photographs and videos showing how the animals are in fact trained by using positive reinforcement and food rewards.

Then the Animal Rightists tried a different approach. The animals, they say, are kept chained up, or in tiny cages. Again, the Circus Community brought out photographic and video evidence of the animals in specially adapted outside enclosures, including stimulating behaviour enrichment toys or apparatus. These are used in the daytime, with the animals spending the night time hours in their more than adequate species related accommodation, of which there are also photographs.

Having had their not so solid 'evidence' disproved, Animal Rights activists had to try a different angle. They came up with the idea that the animals got stressed during travel and that the animals were forced to travel in close confinement. They fed this to anyone who would listen. Even the RSPCA, a group that has tried to distance itself from Animal Rights in favour of a more rational Animal Welfare stance, has tried to make the transportation issue their underpinning argument against animal circuses.
Well, guess what? Yet again the Circus Community can prove otherwise. A recent television show in Germany put the assertion that circus wild animals are stressed when in transit. This scientific experiment conducted with a veterinarian present and with controls in place measured cortisol levels present in lion saliva prior to and immediately after a journey by road. As the footage shows cortisol levels were no higher than those recorded in lions in the wild, showing that no adverse changes occurred and the animals were not unnaturally stressed by the transportation. Why would they be? The lions are used to the travelling; they get frequently checked and offered refreshment en route.

However, one thing opponents of animal circuses are partly correct about is that animals travel close confinement. But they are wrong to think it is detrimental to their health. Just the same as there's a seatbelt law in the UK, and a law which states that children of a certain age, and weight, must be in an approved child seat and restraint, it is SAFER to travel in close confinement. As those who have transported any sort of animal – from reptiles to horses - too much freedom during travel can result in loss of balance, leading to a possible fall and no doubt some sort of injury in the event of a sharp bend, an emergency stop or collision. I'm sure everyone, at some point or other in their lives, have seen the footage of the crash test dummies, how a body can break all too easily without restraint upon impact, even at slow speeds. Imagine the consequences of this happening to an animal?

Meanwhile, whilst all these debates are going on, The Independent decides to open up a petition[i] to let the British Public decide on whether “wild”[ii] animals should be banned from the UK Circus. Without even attempting to see the other side of the story, The Independent came up the figure that 94% of the British Public wanted a ban. As the old Star Wars quote goes, “Who’s more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?” Taking the petition as an undeniable fact pro-ban MPs quoted these figures in the House of Commons. Well, what fools they are going to look when the truth comes out. Firstly the petition is an online one. Anyone can sign it from any country, which plenty did. Also, anyone can sign it with either the same name, or different names, and multiple times from the same IP address. Rather mischievously, the supporters of the Circus and possibly some of their own community, went on there and totally ridiculed it. Anyone can take a look, and they will find that Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie, and lots other Disney characters signed it along with several entries from 'Oh look, it's me…..AGAIN'. Even Anne the elephant signed it, expressing that she really missed her circus life. These are just a drop in the ocean; there must be at least 1,000 of those signatures that were from the Circus Community and their supporters themselves. It just goes to prove how flawed it really is. Take into account how many people there are in the UK, how many people signed multiple times, how many people signed from abroad, and how many people just signed to prove the whole thing is a farce, and dis-allow these names, it probably comes to less than 1% of the British Public.

What does really puzzle me is that the UK Circus Community can constantly prove, by factual and scientific evidence, that there is no need to worry about the wellbeing and welfare of the UK Circus animals, but the Animal Rightists never let go. They could be out there fighting for the rights of animals that DO need help. Instead they're wasting time trying to “free” the ones that are perfectly safe, happy where they are and amongst the people they know, love and trust. The Circus gets regular visits from the RSPCA who never find any concerns. If there was anything amiss they would be straight to the media for some publicity.

It leads me to believe that the full-time Animal Rights organizations are only in it for the money they can guilt trip the gullible public into donating. The reason they target the Circus is because it is a very soft target. It has a history of only defending itself when it has no choice but to do so and has virtually no representation in the House of Commons. Non-circus animal organizations are also fair game, but are much tougher to bring down on the whole. They not only generate far more revenue than circuses, but have become firmly integrated into our social infrastructure. There are far more MPs that eat meat, consume dairy products and honey, wear or sit on leather, use fabrics that have been connected to animals, use medication or cosmetics that have been tested on animals, fish, ride horses and believe in pet ownership[iii] than those who are fans of traditional animal circuses.  
Another concern regarding the money the animal rights receive, what do they spend it on? As far as I can see, they don't spend it on saving animals or animal welfare. Just saying.

[i] There will be more about this in the second part of our “Lies, Damned Lies and Internet Opinion Polls” series - Rouster
[ii] I feel I must add here that the “wild” animals in the UK Circus' at the moment are at least seventh generation captive bred. Therefore they weren't “snatched from the wild” or “torn away from their mothers” as these pro-ban groups would lead people to believe. – Gail Wilmott
[iii] All uses of animals that are condemned by the largest Animal Rights organizations - Rouster
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