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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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

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
organizations, “Actors and Others for Animals” and The Doris Day Animal League/Foundation have always held a hard-line animal rights view, as opposed to animal welfare. This can be seen by DDAL’s eventual merger with the world’s largest animal rights groups, The Humane Society of United States.  Although it is hard to find any examples from Day actually attacking animal circuses – she certainly has plenty to say about every other animal business – her group’s position is clearly opposed to the use of trained animals and animals in circuses. The DDAL site’s links are pretty much exclusively to animal rights websites and include those that specifically target performing animals. Now being a part of HSUS means that’s even more focused They endorse books that are anti-circus, including those which target schools, and their representatives, such as Sandy McKelson , have written articles like “Until the  Tiger Talks…” that urge readers to boycott animal circuses. DDAL’s Julia Janak wrote a glowing review on a 15 year old girl’s work to get a ballot initiative to introduce a ban on exotic animals in circuses in Denver, Colorado, in “One Girl versus the Big Top”.

Doris Day may have never openly attacked circus or performing animals in public statements, but the organization that bears her name has been relentless in issuing propaganda, encouraging grassroots animal rights groups and working to change legislation to ban the use of animals in circuses. She is far more influential than a normal celebrity that lends their support to an existing animal rights group or even issues an anti-animal circus statement. Day actually owns one of the most active and well-funded animal rights groups in the US and now by merging with the world’s largest she is easily one of animal circus’s most formidable opponents. 

Why is this celebrity a hypocrite? 

Having read all of that and followed up on the leads presented in the above section, one would be baffled as to why any person involved in animal circuses or any other form of performing animals work would take exception to Ms Day’s condemnation by this blog. Actually it is because of her massive hypocrisy that some people don’t feel comfortable about criticizing her. In short, they don't like attacking someone who once seemed to be such a celebrity star for the circus. Day would be considered by many of the older generation to be right up there with Charlton Heston, Tony Curtis, John Wayne and Burt Lancaster as an actor who starred in a circus movie. You see, less than a decade before Ms Day would start her animal rights crusade she starred in the blockbuster circus musical “Jumbo” (A.K.A. “Billy Rose’s ‘Jumbo’”). The film is a favourite amongst circus folk and many of them grew up loving it alongside “Trapeze” and “The Greatest Show on Earth”. Of course, its titular star is a circus trained elephant that performs all the classic tricks – wearing a top and balancing on a pedestal for example - often used by animal rights groups supported by Day to show how circus “degrades” animals. To make matters worse for Day is an active hands-on circus performer in the film, doing a full riding act with a horse, in the presence of a somersaulting dog and working in numerous scenes with the elephant. 

Some might think Rouster is being uncharitable in mentioning Ms Day due to her age and current reclusive status. She also lost her son in 2004. However, these are non-sequiturs and the facts remain. It’s not like the anti-circus stuff has suddenly appeared once the group’s figure head has receded into background during her declining years. It has always been anti-circus and always supported animal rights groups, working hard to create legislation along animal advocacy (a name they like to use, which means animal rights) philosophical guidelines. Besides, Ms Day seems active enough to work on another album. Make no bones about it this woman has used her celebrity status to run a group actively opposed all uses of animals. Despite keeping a huge number of dogs, she has worked hard to restrict ownership laws on pets and one of her main targets is the pet trade. So, it is with great sadness that Rouster decided to include Doris Day on their poll, but if we are going to address this issue fairly now is not the time to hold back. The DDAL certainly don't!

Astley's Legacy was formed to counter the misinformation and propaganda spread by animal rights activists. As well as fighting the corner for circus animals and their trainers, we are here to promote and celebrate the cultural heritage of circus in general, and especially in the country of its birth - Great Britain. For more information please see our Facebook group
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