Piccadilly promotes abuse of exotic animals
Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 14:07
Last week, the Piccadilly Circus came to Central Florida, making a stop at the UCF Arena. This year marks the show’s 25th anniversary, but it’s hardly cause to celebrate. Piccadilly Circus is particularly infamous for its horrible treatment of its show animals. Director Zack Garden described the show as “family-based” and “fun for the whole family.” I want to know: How exactly is cruelty a family value?
Nothing about exotic animals in circus performances is natural. There is a reason these animals are labeled “exotic,” and there is a reason you don’t see monkeys and lions mulling around Orlando. They don’t belong here under any circumstances. Animals suffer acute mental distress from being confined, separated from their parents and transported long distances without breaks or exercise. Animals in shows are denied the ability to exercise normally, practice healthy habits and execute behaviors that are typical to each individual species. Elephants are supposed to roam and bathe themselves. Lions and tigers are carnivorous and naturally need to hunt. Depriving these animals of the ability to perform their natural instinctive behaviors is reprehensible. Beyond that, there is a double standard. Exotic animals are held to a different standard of treatment and care. Hit a dog with a golf club and people would be enraged, but somehow it’s acceptable to use on an elephant. Lock a cat in a kennel that is too small for 12 hours with no food — that’s animal abuse, but if a monkey is treated this way, it’s fine. This type of hypocrisy is absolutely ridiculous.
Everything about typical animal treatment in circus shows, domesticated or exotic, is abhorrent. Ignorance is no excuse for supporting such deplorable behavior. Abuse of circus animals has been thoroughly documented by many animal rights groups such as Animal Defenders International, but unfortunately, people still support the shows.
Control measures used by trainers often inflict serious physical abuse through the use of bull hooks, electric prods, whips and metal bars. Larger animals such as elephants and tigers are often managed using these devices. So the next time you attend a circus performance and think that the elephant standing on its head is a cute “trick,” remember that months of negative reinforcement and painful abuse are what enabled trainers to force the elephant to perform.
The bottom line is that these cruel practices have absolutely no place in our school. We as Knights are better than that, and there are alternatives. The Big Apple Circus does not use exotic animals, and the company is transparent about the treatment it provides its animals. Contemporary acts like Cirque du Soleil also stand as proof that the show will go on without animals in it. Stand with the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida and tell the Piccadilly Circus we do not accept animal cruelty on our campus.
Sadly, the circus as a whole presents a national problem that sets a terrible precedent. Federal efforts to enact H.R. 3359, the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act, are stalled as the bill awaits a hearing in the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture. Help garner support for the act by writing your congressperson. Go to www.house.gov/representatives/find/ if you’re unsure of whom to write. Breakthechainus.com also provides already written letters you can download and send. Tell Congress that exotic animals have no place in “family-based” entertainment.