On Tuesday afternoon, Sacramento City Council approved an amendment granting further protection to animals used in circuses, rodeos and other traveling exhibitions.
The amendment requires an application and permit process for traveling animal exhibitions. It also allows for Sacramento animal control officers to perform unannounced inspections of the animals and their living conditions. This is all being done to provide more protection for animals confined to abusive industries such as these.
Sacramento’s ordinance is a step forward in raising awareness for the plight of animals forced to perform unnatural stunts and acts in circuses, as well as to potentially curb some of the more overt abuse inherent in rodeos. But, unfortunately, this ordinance falls short of actually stopping much of the abuse involved in animal training and transport.
Circus companies such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have been cited and fined on many occasions for their blatant abuse of elephants. The abuse at their hands has been captured on video – images of handlers hitting these extremely sensitive creatures with barbed bullhooks, so the animals perform useless and demeaning tricks.
Although this amended ordinance may be able to catch and prosecute abusers, the only way to absolutely ensure that animals are no longer abused in circuses is to prohibit animals from being used in circuses … period.
The tradition of rodeos is so fundamentally based in animal abuse, that it almost seems like a joke to think that Animal Control will step in and prevent the abuse of farmed animals in these events. The only way to prevent abuse in rodeos would to shut down the entire event.
As a worker for the organization PAWS, which was partially responsible for getting this ordinance approved, told me, virtually all elephants used in circuses are wild caught. This means that they were either trapped in Africa or Asia as a calf and taken from their mothers, or their entire family was slaughtered in order to capture all of the young animals. (Older, wild elephants are almost impossible to tame and train.)
There is no way that a circus which uses exotic animals can ever be remotely “humane” if their only method of finding new “talent” is by kidnapping wild animals as cubs and calves.
To prevent animals being used in circuses in the first place, what must been done is to show circus owners and managers that their productions will be boycotted until they stop the use and abuse of animals who have no choice but to perform.
Boycotting, leafletting and demonstrating about the abuse found in circuses and rodeos is needed now more than ever to bring home the fact that, although this ordinance may be an improvement, it is but one step forward on the way towards a brighter future for animals forced to perform.