To the 600 or so attendees of the annual Enstone Show, staged in the beautiful Oxfordshire Cotswolds, the site of three bear cubs playing and frolicking in front of them was a special treat. The experience led most attendees to bombard the local firm supplying the bears, Amazing Animals, with questions regarding bears in general. This is how it has often worked. Audio-visual experiences inspire individuals to seek out information and there are few experiences better than those that are live. “This is not entertainment it is education” were apparently the exact words of one of the lucky attendees who saw the attraction on 23rd August, echoing the words of the Enstone Show’s organizer, Kate Farquar-Thompson. “They’re certainly enjoying themselves” said one of the two newspaper photographers on the day according to an Astley’s Legacy source present on the day. The same source confirmed that both photographers seemed to be very positive about the appearance of the bear cubs and the photographs that have come to light appear to show three very healthy young specimens of the species Ursos arctos actively engaged in healthy activities.
Sadly for a vocal minority and a sensationalist press outside of this charming, educational and enriching experience took the usual route of decrying the event as if it were some terrible medieval atrocity. The supposed middle market paper, The Daily Mail, which really should give up the pretence and put a big red banner to show its true place amongst the other sensationalist tabloids, carried the headline in its 25th August hard copy edition: Bears paraded in cages for crowd’s amusement. Albania? China? No, a Cotswold village fete (It should be noted that that was a somewhat different tone to the online story they ran ahead).
So far our sources have indicated that there wasn’t one negative comment from those who actually attended the fete. They clearly did not see the rather mildly prejudiced comparison made by the paper. Yes, the bears were in a cage, but that is purely an aesthetic issue. Just by looking at the structure, anyone acquainted with the Five Freedoms enshrined in the Animal Welfare Act 2007 can see that the exhibit meets all legal requirements. Furthermore, anyone attending would be able to tell you that the bears were suitably stimulated and showed full use of their enrichment toys in addition to natural sibling interaction.
Questions arise yet again regarding The Daily Mail’s relationship with extremist groups like Animal Defenders International and the Captive Animal Protection Society who are the two groups responsible for bringing negative attention to the event. The paper seems to have had an ongoing relationship with various animal rights groups since the 1980s, which feed them emotive sound-bites. The paper has never run an expose of an animal rights group, despite the fact that these have been well-publicised through a variety of other media, and seems to have little interest in providing the other side of a story promoted by animal rightists. The display of wild animals for education to the locals of Enstone is an annual event that has gone on for many years without incident and with overwhelmingly positive feedback from locals. Amazing Animals, a local company, has been the sole supplier on every occasion.
Animals in Entertainment – Extreme Agenda meets Extreme Hypocrisy
ADI and CAPS are both set against all usage of animals. They especially hit animals in entertainment as they are an easy target. The animals are on display, which makes them easy to see and publicise, and they make for good emotive copy. Companies like Amazing Animals are good for them, as they rely on their income from commercial work with trained animals. The fact that those who own and work at the company don’t have anything like the income generated from animal rights groups – most of their income being spent on keeping their animals – is not considered in the media.
If these groups get their way they will affect our entire way of living. It is rare for you to go through an entire commercial break on most television channels without seeing a trained animal being featured in some way. If you own a pet the food you buy for it will have a still photograph featuring a trained animal. Many of the natural history documentaries you watch will feature sequences filmed using trained animals. Even zoo programmes, such as London Zoo of The Zoo fame, which was promoted on animal rights promoting celebrity hypocrite Ricky Gervais’s tragi-comedy, Derek, uses trained animals and these trained animals are filmed.
The Daily Mail apparently asked Amazing Animals if they could come to their private zoo to shoot pictures of the bear cubs’ enclosures. Understandably Amazing Animals refused. After all, as one employee stated to the journalist, you have already taken pictures here before. You see, The Daily Mail newsgroup wouldn’t think twice about employing companies like Amazing Animals for work despite the way they choose to condemn them in their stories. Anyway, Rouster has been allowed access to the Amazing Animals images and can see what hundreds of visitors from various different media groups see most days of the year without complaint.
Animal Defenders International
Captive Animal Protection Society
The whole incident is very telling regarding just how little AR represents public opinion. This is something Rouster has said for a long time with regards the supposed 95% support against wild animals in circuses. Despite Kate Farquar-Thompson receiving 700+ tweets and emails telling her to cancel the booking of the bear cubs there was no protest on the day. CAPS tried to organize one, but no locals were interested. Instead people travelled from as far as Portsmouth to enjoy watching the bear cubs in a blatant backfire of the negative publicity ADI and CAPS generated. This sends out a message to any other organizers who get bullied by AR groups. Stand your ground!
Fortunately one local paper was willing to show the other side of the story. The Oxford Times chose not to interview groups and people who had no intention of attending the Enstone Show. Instead they interviewed locals in addition to one of the bears' trainers:
Bear Cubs Attract Support Despite Protests
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 https://www.facebook.com/groups/223570581049199
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