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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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. 

Despite 30 years of animal rights protesters vociferously attacking the circus industry as fundamentally cruel, there are no scientific reports backing their claims.  However, there are two scientific reports that absolutely shoot the arguments of the animals’ rights movement down in flames.  These are the Radford Report and the Kiley-Worthington Report.  The latter was commissioned by the RSPCA who, in recent years, have almost shifted from a truthful animal welfarist group to taking a stronger animal rights fundamentalist view, since it became “trendy” to think of wild and exotic animals in captivity, be it in circuses or zoos and safari parks, as politically incorrect.  This gives the RSPCA brownie points (they seem to believe) and yet in recent years they have taken a hard line even with pet owner who have done nothing wrong.  This organization cannot confiscate an animal from anywhere without the presence of the police. However, they regularly inspect circuses and pass the animal welfare standards on the vast majority of occasions.  They do not really have an alternative choice as animal welfare in circuses not only meets, but often exceeds legal requirements.

Yet, at top level, this organization seems to have become very undemocratic and extreme regarding circuses.  It was the RSPCA that commissioned the previously mentioned Dr Kiley-Worthington report.  They might have well been hoping for scientific proof that animals suffer great stress, especially when a travelling circus moves from one town to the next.  How disappointed they must have been with Dr Kiley-Worthington’s results.

Dr Marthe Kiley-Worthington is an animal behaviour scientist with the Department of Applied Ethology, School of Agriculture. She carried out an 18 month study of British and other European circus companies with animals concluding that transportation did not traumatise the livestock.  The main conclusions of the report were that, although improvements could be made, the welfare of circus animals is not, as a rule, inferior to other animal husbandry systems such as wildlife parks or private stables. Dr Kiley-Worthington found that all species of circus animals were well fed, training was professional and without cruelty or prolonged pain and suffering.  Training was carried out with positive reinforcement – verbal scolding was sometimes used, but no more than is usual with a private horse or dog trainer.  Since the report, circuses have vastly improved the exercise areas for their elephants, carnivores and hooved stock.

Above and beyond these two reports, the circus community have a voice today in this technological age, with the informative, eye-opening YouTube channel “Circus – The Truth”.  One of the videos on this excellent channel shows the lions of trainer Martin Lacey Junior travelling in their east wagons from Monte Carlo to winter quarters in Germany.  Swabs of saliva taken by qualified vets before and straight after the journey, examined from stress hormones, prove that not only did stress levels NOT increase, but in some cases they decreased!

So what is the difference between animal rights and animal welfare?  Animal welfare can be applied wherever mankind works with animals, be it the pet trade, agriculture, veterinary care, zoos, safari parks, all equine industries and circuses.  It has existed since animals became part of our working lives. It is the belief that animals do not have the same rights as us, but that humans do have a duty of care for the animals. Animal welfare can be improved and those who say they support it should strive to see that is can be reasonably progressed. Animal welfare isn’t always good. Animal welfare contends that animals can, have and are mistreated through ignorance, neglect or even malice, and where this is found to be the case the persons responsible should be held to account.

Animal rights, however ideal it might sound, is a radically fanatical, emotive and deluded view that supports the idea that non-human animals should be granted the same or similar rights to human. These are rights that animals cannot and will never be aware of and doesn’t serve them in any practical way. In the wild, animals fight against one another for survival and human civilization is built on the manipulation of his fellow non-human animals.  The movement believe that we are not superior to other species.  None of their claims are based on mainstream scientific evidence; it is anarchistic idealism that becomes more extreme as time goes on.

The driving force behind this movement is neither a love of animals nor a concern for their welfare.  The movement is driven by money and hate.  Animal rights ideology by its nature abhors almost all people from all walks of life because they believe that animals have rights that are equal to ours.  PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in the USA and the Captive Animal Protection Society in Europe are examples of organizations that support this view. They openly speak of wanting to end ALL interaction with other species by humans.  This manifesto is clearly stated in the PETA websites where the top level of this fanatical organisation encourages vandalism, destroying of property and violence towards people in animal-related industries.  Along with other AR organisations, such as the dangerous terrorist organisation the Animal Liberation Front and the celebrity-led Born Free Foundation, the ideological (fanatical) manifesto includes a wish not only to totally ban real animal circuses and zoos, but also horse racing, show jumping, dressage events, gymkhanas, police horses, the horse guards.  It goes right down to banning the basic right of owning pets by anyone, as these fundamentalists see dog, bird and cat ownership as “the slavery of other species (beings) they call animals”.

This might sound ridiculous until you look up the websites of PETA.  The animal rights manifesto gets even more unbelievable than this.  They wouldn’t openly admit to wanting pets banned to the mainstream public YET.  But they will IF they ever managed to get circuses and zoos banned.  Don’t believe it?  Look it up online!

30 years ago these people were laughed at for accusing circuses and zoos of cruelty, but yet they have conned thousands of people into believing that zoos, circuses, safari parks and anywhere, save for their selected animal sanctuaries are animal Belsen.  By using emotive, unfounded slogans such as “mad captive animal syndrome” and “the cruellest show on earth” they tap into the psyche and emotions of the public. 

They even have videos set up on the internet showing alleged “circus cruelty”.  However convincing they might seem at first sight, if these videos were hard evidence of the cruelty circuses are accused of, most animal trainers would not be working by now, having been prevented by law from working with animals for good.  The most suspicious of all these videos are those in which the camera pans around the “abuser” and the “abused” animal as can be seen in the 2011 video of Anne the elephant.  Anne, once the video was made public, was retired by owner Bobby Roberts to Longleat where a keeper who appeared on BBC1’s “The One Show” said:

“Mr Roberts must have been doing something right…  She is one of the oldest captive elephants in Europe… Well done Bobby and Moira!”. 

Pulling back the veil of emotive propaganda and shrill cries for the crimination of the animal owners, the press – who are fed their information by animal rights groups with vested interest – rarely ask some pretty basic questions about all this. For example, who was filming her being beaten and where is the groom now?  And why, if these animal rights people love animals so much, would they film such abuse for over three weeks instead of immediately stopping it?  Why take so long to report it to the police? From what I have seen in the millions of pounds and dollars that is raised every year by animal rights every year by their aggressive campaigns it would appear that one answer makes the most sense: Because it serves them well!

Whenever and wherever you see animal rights protests, be it the handing out of leaflets or on their websites, you will always see, without fail, a pleas at the bottom of the page to please donate and help these poor animals.  These parasitic animal rights organisations operate the worst kind of con that exists, playing on the emotions and goodwill of ordinary people who then naturally donate money to “save” these “poor tortured creatures”.  It’s all a vile marketing strategy that makes hundreds of thousands of pounds for these people every year, a shockingly small percentage of which goes towards the well-being of animals.

The worst part of the situation is that the general public believe they are donating to stop cruelty that does not always exist – animal welfare regulations, inspections and the law rightly make sure of this.  What they are really doing is contributing to lining the pockets of radical fanatics, driving zoos and circuses into crisis and actually funding organisation that are quietly waiting for the glorious day (for them) to arrive in which all pets are confiscated and euthanized to eradicate breeding more “companion slaves” for humans.  And it gets worse still.  It’s taken them 30 years to damage the reputation of circuses in the public’s eye, and they have succeeded to some degree.  How much longer will it take before they have so much money and power that owning pets is a criminal activity and they are then working on a forced vegan society?  Alarmingly this is in their manifesto.

Laughable though it may seem now, the writing is on the wall unless the truth about them gets into the minds of the mainstream.  Even many AR activists that are ordinary animal lovers do not understand just how far the leaders of such organisations as CAPS, ALF, Born Free etc and above all PETA are prepared to go for animals (being) as they call them.  If their ideology gains more power in the coming future, they will be dictating what we see, wear, have and even eat.  In their journey to get there, they are perfectly happy to destroy the lives of the culture of circus people, horsemen and women, the pet industry, farmers, scientists and many other people. 

Circus The Truth was formed to counteract the misinformation spread by the animal rights agenda but in addition to fighting the corner for circus animals I think there is also a further need to promote and celebrate the circus in general, especially in Great Britain.
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