The video and photos here are from the protest of Ringling Brothers Circus on Saturday, February 18 at Philips Arena. We would like to thank everyone who agreed to talk to us and everyone who came out to support these beautiful creatures. We would like to send a special thank you to GARP (Georgia Animal Rights and Protection), Global Wildlife Warriors for organizing and publicizing this week’s protests. Ringling is taking it’s spectacle to the Gwinnett Arena next weekend and there will be more protests there as well.
So, why protest the circus, anyway? Remember when you were a kid and your parents let you watch “Dumbo”? Remember how horrified and upset you were at the way the mean circus master treated Dumbo’s mom? Did your parents tell you it wasn’t really that way; that the animals were treated really well and that they liked to perform? Sadly, the truth is that animals in circuses are treated much, much worse than Dumbo and his mom were. The abuse and confinement are horrific. Ringling Brothers was fined $270,000 by the USDA in November 2011 (yes, just a few months ago) for the treatment of the animals they hold captive and force to perform.
Fortunately, word is getting out and these animals now have advocates fighting for them. Protesters can be found outside of arenas to educate the people entering the circus as to what is really going on. As a result of this heightened awareness, many countries have now banned the use of animals in circuses. Even countries where animal use is still permitted, some cities and counties have banned the use of the bullhook, a metal instrument similar to a fireplace poker, which is used to beat elephants into submission. Fulton County has such a ban, which was suspended when Ringling came to town. A judge in Atlanta said it was permissible for Ringling to use them on their elephants while they are here. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed refused to enforce the ban. I’m sure many of us will remember that when he runs for reelection.
While elephants are garnering most of the attention in these protests, it is important to remember that there are many other animals used as entertainment in the circus, and that their lives are no better than the elephants. Can you even imagine what it would take to get a tiger to jump through a hoop of fire?