For centuries, elephants have been equated with the image of the circus, and they are noted as one of the iconic acts of the famous circus company Ringling Brothers. However, as much fun as circuses provide for their audiences, hidden behind the big top is the torture that is inflicted on these elephants. They are tamed and trained to obey and to do whatever trick they are told in order to please their masters. According to the activist website, Ringling Bros. Beats Animals, actor Alec Baldwin has uncovered some of the abuse that has been going on in Ringling Brothers’ shows.
“After the show, Ringling Bros. elephants travel the country for 11 months out of the year in poorly ventilated boxcars, putting them at high risk for foot problems and arthritis, the leading reasons why captive elephants in the US are euthanized. But the show must go on: Night after night, they are still forced to perform the same excruciating tricks,” Alec said in his PETA video.
Ringling Brothers, however, believes that a circus is not itself if there are no elephants present. Matthew Wittmann, historian and author of Circus and the City: New York, 1793-2010, advocates for ending the abuse of elephants in circuses by demonstrating Cirque De Soleil’s ability to attract audiences without having to use any animals.
The public has become fully aware of the issue, and protests and concern for the maltreatment of these animals have been increasing. Audiences are not as easily deceived by the glamour of the circus as they were before, causing many to fight against the abuse of these majestic creatures.
Finally, after an unrelenting struggle to fight for the advocacy, Ringling Brothers announced that they are going to drop their elephant act by the year 2018.
Although there are activists that cheered with this news, some circus goers are upset with how it was handled, calling it “a circus with no trapeze artist.” One objector stated that kids won’t be able to experience the thrill of a real circus without an elephant.
The long and short of it is that elephants are going to go extinct if we don’t do something about it. These humble, kind creatures are meant to be free and loved. Even though we have no reassurance of how elephants will continue to be treated around the world, at least we know that Ringling Brothers won’t be able to hurt them anymore.