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, 16 July 2014

Rouster’s Top 10 Hypocritical Anti-Circus Celebrities (Number 3)

Simon Cowell 

– 21% of the vote


Simon Cowell was born to a father who was an executive of EMI Music Publishing and a socialite mother. He rose to also become an Artists and Repertoire executive in the music industry. He eventually earned a reputation as a hard, critical and blunt judge with one-liners on the talent show, “Pop Idol”. Much of this onscreen personality, it has been stated, comes from his coaching via one of his former employees, the famous publicist, Max Clifford. Following the success of “Pop Idol”, “American Idol” and “X Factor”, Cowell’s company, Syco went into developing more talent TV shows. 

Why are they anti-circus? 

Simon Cowell donates money to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and has appeared in their publicity. PETA, of course, are the world’s second largest and most vocal animal rights organization, and completely opposed to the use of animals in circus or entertainment (except for when animals can be used to publicize them!) Cowell’s open dislike of circus might actually highlight the real crux of the issue, which goes far beyond the animal issue. When he judged Gerry Cottle’s troupe of upcoming stars, “The Wookey Hole Turbo Jets”, on his “Britain’s Got Talent” TV talent show, Cowell made a gross sweeping generalization on circus culture with these dismissive comments: “'I don’t like circuses and I’m not sure many people do anymore”.  Of course, we can assure Mr Cowell that numerous packed circuses that enjoy full houses throughout the UK and the world that “many people” do like circuses in all their myriad of forms, as Douglas McPherson’s recent book on circuses in Britain, “Circus Mania”, can testify. However, it is an interesting point that the act Cowell’s comments were directed at was an all-human display. 

Given the information presented on the man, we can assume that Cowell’s dislike of animal circuses will come from the animal rights groups he has chosen to support and also from a personal dislike of the circus aesthetic. The latter is an example of the middle class condition that has led to the blatant double standards that many a circus person bemoans.  

Why is this celebrity a hypocrite?

Like many rather ignorant people in showbusiness, few realize the cultural link between circus and variety.  So, whereas all other talent shows wouldn’t dream of presenting a panel of judges who didn’t have experience in the art they were assessing/critiquing, “Britain’s Got Talent” felt that just about any celebrity could judge candidates who wanted to appear on the Royal Variety Performance. Simon Cowell got cast as the tough judge. The show has featured an array of animal acts performed by amateurs and semi-amateurs, which have not once elicited a complaint or even a question regarding animal welfare from Cowell or, for that matter, from other anti-animal circus/animal performance celebrity judges like Amanda Holden or Piers Morgan. 

The depth of Cowell’s ignorance and his double standards are jaw-dropping. Not only does he often praise an animal act, but even recommended one magic act to include a wild animal, like a tiger, so they would be more like Siegfried and Roy. Displaying how little he knew about the current world of animal acts in the UK, Europe or anywhere, Cowell told a young girl with her performing dog that the animal was the “cleverest dog in the world”. This was despite Sallyann and Ionut Roncescu’s amazing dustbin dog act and “lion” dogs’ performance touring in circuses and on the West End musical “Chitty Chitty Bang” around that time. Not to mention the many talented dog acts around Europe. And yet this man and some of his fellow uninformed panellists feel they can generalize in their condemnation of animals in circus. 

Cowell's inclusion on this list - and at such a high placement - comes from his insidious influence over popular opinion. He has been regularly criticized for the way he has taken popular music to new lows and exploited young hopefuls. His shows present a completely false picture for anyone wishing to be a part of showbusiness. The view he presents on circuses is completely at odds with reality. 

Peta vs Animals

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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