jordan family circus
A baby circus elephant in training, photo: Heather Norwood / CC BY-SA 3.0

Animals should not require our permission to live on earth. Animals were given the right to be here long before we arrived. —Anthony Douglas Williams

The good news is that Ringling Brothers is finally shutting down after 146 years.

This is exciting for animal activists.

“The biggest brand in exotic animal acts announced that there’s no future in that line of work,” according to Wayne Pacelle, CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. In other words, much of the public is finally realizing that this form of animal entertainment cannot be justified as humane. Transporting any animal from it’s natural habitat and social group thousands of miles, confining it, and training it to perform for human animals can never be accomplished without causing pain and stress. Ringling Brothers’ decision is a huge victory for the animals and humans that champion their cause. Perhaps we are evolving as a species, but that remains to be seen.

The bad news is that The Jordan Family Circus will be in Hurricane again on Jan. 23. This small traveling circus visits St. George on a regular basis. There are free tickets available at local businesses.

I am hopeful that those planning to attend might give some thought to Ringling Brothers’ decision and decide not to expose their children to blatant animal abuse in the form of “entertainment.”

I am also hopeful that parents might consider what kind of values they want to teach their children. It is never OK to abuse any animal, including human animals.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” —Gandhi

It is an undisputed fact that animal abuse leads to human abuse and disguising it in the form of entertainment simply reinforces the concept. When people are cruel, they are characterized as animals; yet ironically, humans are the only animals capable of cruelty. Perhaps remaining circuses will realize that the current model using animals is archaic and revise their business models to appeal to a wider, more informed audience. There are many class acts such as Cirque De Soleil that do not use animals and still are able to provide quality and compelling entertainment to enlightened audiences.

The ugly side of animal advocacy is that there are still those that believe that humans have dominion over animals. It was not that long ago in this country when white people believed they were superior to blacks. As the result of those beliefs, blacks suffered needlessly and were forced to fight for equality. While Martin Luther King Jr. is well-known as a champion of human rights, he insisted that we should never be afraid to do what is right when the well-being of any animal — human or otherwise — is at stake.

Animals cannot speak for themselves, but we can speak for them. With a new administration at the helm, we need to be increasingly vigilant. I believe that Trump and Company have the ability to disrupt American lives as never before. It may be a good thing. We may all have to decide what we want to stand for and who we are as Americans. I hope Americans can be strong when necessary and continually kind. As Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.“ Donald Trump says that he wants to make America great again. Maybe he should start with animals. Just saying.

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