Ringling Brothers Circus – The Saddest Show on Earth
By Venus Zarris
As a theater writer in Chicago for the past ten years, I have seen actors endure a great deal of sacrifice and even suffering for their craft. I have seen them hurt on stage. I have them perform both injured and ill. They take financial risks and frequently forgo things like insurance and stability to create their work. Most actors I know give up a great deal to pursue a life on stage. It is impressive and inspiring but in the context of this article it is, most importantly, THEIR CHOICE.
People have the choice to put themselves through all manner of hardship in order to achieve their goals.
Animals, on the other hand, never dream of creating that perfect moment onstage. The “stage” isn’t even on their radar, unless it is something that they are unnaturally forced to endure.
No matter how you advertise them, wild animal acts in circuses are nothing short of cruel exploitation. Our sincere love and fascination for animals are blasphemed by these displays of abuse. We cannot profess to admire and respect animals and then the support their oppressive and horrendous mistreatment. Suffering is not entertainment, unless you are a sadist.
Look, I LOVED going to the circus when I was a child. More than anything else, I LOVED seeing the animals. But there was something that never felt right. I found myself crying every time I saw the lions and tigers “tamed” and the elephants standing on their heads. I didn’t have a vocabulary for my emotional reaction but something inside me just knew that it was not right.
When we hear about children who are kidnapped and abused we are mortified. If we found out that humans were being bread for the purpose of mass exploitation, we would be horrified and enraged.
So why then is it “good clean family fun” to take some of the planets most splendid creatures from their natural lives and subject them to confinement and cruelty?
It’s not fine. It is a dastardly transgression against animals and against the evolution of our human decency and morality.
In the 19th Century and even in the early part of the 20th Century, “freak shows” that exploited human beings as oddities and novelties were common practice. Men, women and children were denied their very humanity and paraded around as attractions for profit. Today, this is recognized as heartless depravity.
Does our compassion stop with people? Are animals less deserving of sympathy, kindness and dignity? How can the suffering of marvelous creatures be entertaining? How can we just leave our moral compass at home, plunk down our cash for tickets and then enjoy a traveling display of brutality?
I can only imagine it is because we simply don’t realize what we are watching. Here’s the facts, every circus that displays wild animal acts is guilty if abuse.
Do you remember seeing DUMBO when you were a child? Remember how terrible it was for the animals and FORGET the bullshit happy ending because for these animals, THERE ARE NO HAPPY ENDINGS. There is no happiness or comfort. There is only, fear, anxiety, abuse and suffering.
Circuses want to make money and they are counting on your lack of knowledge to do it. Ringling Brothers is the apex of wild animal circuses and they are horrible to the very creatures that make them rich.
DO NOT support the SADDEST SHOW ON EARTH. Don’t inadvertently expose your kids to institutionalized commercial sadism. And please, spread the word. Cities all over the world are banning circuses with wild animal acts. The audience can step up and be the heroes for these animals that we obviously admire and adore. We can stop the crime of animal abuse in circuses. We can end this travesty in our lifetime.
The Saddest Show on Earth ad campaign was conceived by Y&R for PETA