Attending a demonstration on behalf of a cause that I care about, is something I have always dreamed of doing. When my friend Emily invited me to protest on behalf of animal rights, I was overjoyed. The autonomy and well-being of all sentient creatures is very important to me. And because animals can’t grab a picket sign and shout chants of rebellion, I feel it is my obligation to take the streets in protest for them.
When I learned that the UniverSoul circus was coming to my neighboring town, I was livid. I couldn’t believe such a great city would allow a circus performance to occur. If you are unfamiliar with the wrongs of circuses, I will explain.
Firstly, the odd performances and acts completed by circus animals are not instinctual and are only done as a result of beatings and other violence. And secondly, life on the road for these animals is cruel. They are forced to live in confined areas that do not compare to their natural habitats.
The wrongs of circuses have weighed heavily on my heart for a while. So when I was given the opportunity to spread information about the animal cruelty involved in circuses, I gladly took it.
The demonstration was going to take place at the entrance of the park so that circus-goers could see our signs of protest as they arrived. I met my friend Emily and her Abuela at the entrance. The three of us were eager to protest. Once our signs were put together we took our stances at the front of the park. Emily’s sign read “Animal Abuse is Not Entertainment.” My sign and her Abuela’s sign showed pictures of circus animals and the weapons used to train them.
Our presence there yielded many different reactions. Emily chanted “Animal-based entertainment breeds cruelty!” at cars whose windows were down. We got as close as possible to cars so they could see our signs. Many of the passerby cars who were not entering the park for the circus honked in support. Cars entering the park, however, were not as enthusiastic. The people inside the cars stared intently at our signs. Some people gave looks of disgust and I’m not sure if their disgusted looks were directed at the signs or us protestors. My favorite reactions were those of the children. Many school-aged children who saw our signs looked horrified. They craned their necks around to read our signs even as their parents tried to enter into the park as quickly as possible.
Once all the cars had entered into the park, we adopted a more subliminal way of spreading our message. We put away our signs and entered into the park. Cars were at a standstill waiting to enter the park so Emily and I approached vehicles to give them informational leaflets about circus cruelty. Almost everyone rolled down their window and gladly accepted the leaflet. That may or may not be because they thought we were workers for UniverSoul circus and not protesters. We managed to distribute 100+ leaflets about circus cruelty.
Once all the cars had entered into the circus parking lot, we embarked on a new journey. We entered into the park and distributed informational leaflets to anyone who was willing to receive. Things got very interesting when we found ourselves behind the circuses big top. We saw two boys practicing acrobatics and another man riding a dirt bike. They all looked very young which puzzled us. I called one of the acrobats over to where we were standing on the opposite end of the fence; he walked over.
We introduced ourselves and began asking him questions. I don’t want to reveal his name so I’ll call him Jim. Jim told us that he’s 19 years old and has been working in the circus for 7 years. He told us that he’s from Africa and that the circus recruited him from his home in Guinea. I asked him if he enjoyed being in the circus and he said of course.
We asked him about the treatment of the animals in the circus and slight skepticism arose on his face. He replied simply that the animals enjoy their time at the circus. We asked him about the conditions the animals live in and he spoke positively of them; this did not surprise us. Emily and I knew of course that the lives of the animals in the circus were not positive like Jim had described.
Animals who perform in circuses live in confinement and isolation. They are stabbed, probed, and beaten to perform in the unnatural ways that they do. I hope that it is clear to you why Emily, myself, and many other people protest against circuses. Circus animals don’t have the ability to protest against their confinement. So it is the duty of compassionate people to amplify the voices of these animals.
Next weekend I’ll be protesting against the circus again. I’m looking forward to another powerful and successful demonstration.
Here is a video that explains many of the circuses abuses https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQbeL-Hw00c
For more information on why we protest, please see http://www.circusprotest.com/#!circus-cruelty/c10yc