Illnois and New York have previously enacted bans on the use of elephants in circuses or other traveling entertainment acts, but New Jersey has become the first state to ban the use of any wild or exotic animals in traveling entertainment acts.
Assembly Bill No. 1923, approved by the New Jersey legislature and signed into law by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, says,
Notwithstanding any other law, or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, no person shall use an elephant or other wild or exotic animal in a traveling animal act.
In a press release, Murphy described his reasons for signing what is referred to as Nosey’s Law, after a 36-year old African elephant that performed in traveling animal acts,
“I am proud to sign ‘Nosey’s Law’ and ensure that New Jersey will not allow wild and exotic animals to be exploited and cruelly treated within our state,” said Governor Murphy. “This law would not have been possible without the years of hard work and advocacy by Senator Ray Lesniak, whose legacy on issues of animal rights is second to none. These animals belong in their natural habitats or in wildlife sanctuaries, not in performances where their safety and the safety of others is at risk.”
In an effort to try to stay relevant given all the entertainment options Americans have at their fingers, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has unveiled a new format for one of its touring groups that includes eliminating its tiger act altogether.
Ringling Bros. chief executive Kenneth Feld said the elimination of the tiger act was not a concession to animal rights activists, but rather an attempt to appeal more to the core audience of circus goers which Feld told the Tampa Bay Tribune constitutes mothers with young children. Other changes include a more theater-like environment including a 24-foot video screen. Ringling Bros. other touring group will keep the tiger act until the results of this experiment are available to the company.
According tot he Tribune,
But in a clear message to those who criticize Ringling’s treatment of animals, the elephants get speaking roles on the 24-foot video screen. Someone gives the animals voiced-over words, telling audiences that their act is based on naturalistic behaviors of elephants and poking fun at the animal rights issue.
University of Texas professor Janet Davis, however, told the Tribune that the elimination of the tiger act is a victory of sorts for the animal rights movement,
The animal rights groups have won in a way. There is less emphasis on animals in the new show.
Certainly animal rights groups were opposed to the tiger act, but this is no more a victory for animal rights groups anymore than the decline in the number of hunters is, even though they are both trends the animal rights movement is happy to see.
Rather they are both changes brought about by larger cultural, social and economic changes in the United States. Frankly, I’m surprised that as many people visit circuses every year as apparently do to keep Ringling Bros. and other circuses going.
Rice’s claim that PETA doesn’t target children with shock tactics was as accurate as his claim that Kelton would appear naked.
Interestingly, an opponent of PETA got in a plug about PETA’s habit of killing animals into the story,
At least one passer-by took exception to the protest. Ingrid Rosenquist, a deputy county attorney, said her father is a biomedical researcher, and she has been active in training horses and dogs for competition. Saying she was speaking only for herself, not her employer, Rosenquist said PETA kills animals at its own shelters and supports animal rights terrorists.
As with its other campaign, she said, PETA exaggerates the frequency and severity of mistreatment of circus animals. She referred people to the Web site www.petakillsanimals.com.
Good for Rosenquist.
Semi-naked protester strikes a pose for mistreated circus critters. Ed Kemmick, The Independent Record (Helena, Montana), September 30, 2005.
Prior to an appearance by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Grand Forks, North Dakota, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals promised to pull out all the stops to protest. In a press release, PETA promised,
PETA Beauty Bares All, Including Truth Behind CircusÂ’s Phony Claims
. . .
Wearing nothing but shackles and covered in “scars” as a result of violent “beatings”Â—an everyday reality for animals in circusesÂ—a woman will protest the arrival of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. She will be joined by protesters holding a banner that reads, “Shackled, Lonely, Beaten,” while others show footage of elephant beatings on body screen TVs and hold poster-size photos of animals who have died at RinglingÂ’s hands:
The woman turned out to be PETA activist Christy Griffin. According to a report by the Grand Forks Herald,
Around noon, the woman, wearing a dark robe, showed up with a fully clothed companion and proceeded to set up a big, black sign on the sidewalk: “Circus animals: shackled, lonely, beaten.”
Then, following in Lady Godiva’s footsteps, she disrobed and half lay before the sign, wearing nothing but a pair of briefs and metal shackles. Makeup made it look as if she had three big gashes on her back.
This, she seemed to say, is what a human would be like if she were a circus animal.
As you can see from a picture that appeared in the Grand Forks Herald, however, Christy Griffin is clearly not naked,
This led some passersby to accuse PETA of lying,
“She’s got panties on,” said retiree Pete Nikel, who also says he thinks PETA people are crazy. “If you say you’re going to be totally naked, you gotta be totally naked!”
Grand Forks Herald columnist Ryan Bakken added a few days later,
In order to draw attention, PETA had promised a naked woman protesting the treatment of circus animals. Since she wore the blanket and briefs, the nudity guarantee was a half-truth, proving she has a bright future in politics.
This was an outrage, as many truth-seeking citizens (men) had surrendered their lunch hour to learn about mistreatment of circus animals. And, well, without the nudity, she lost her credibility as an expert. What would a clothes-wearing person know about animal cruelty?
One Grand Forks sanitation truck drove by the downtown street corner several times in hopes of finding a naked, credible spokeswoman. Mistreatment of circus animals also must be a high priority of construction workers, judging by their numerous drive-by visits.
The Royal Hanneford Circus spent five days in Westland, Michigan in July. Members of Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow showed up to protest.
ADAPTT member Jim McNellis summarized the group’s objection to circuses when he told a reporter for the Westland Observer,
The circus has no educational value. It’s teaching kids that animal are objects, not living creatures.
This is good to know — I’d hate to take my daughter to a circus and have her emerge thinking that elephants and lions are inanimate objects rather than living creatures. I’m not quite sure how seeing moving, animated animals would lead her to that conclusion, but its apparently had that effect on McNellis, so anything’s possible.
League’s circus attracts crowds and protesters. Darrell Clem, Westland Observer, July 31, 2005.
When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus visited Orange County, California, in July the Los Angeles Times ran the typical back-and-forth story with competing quotes from circus employees and animal rights activists.
After quotes from animal rights activist Kristal Parks who told the Times that chaining elephants is “almost like putting a human being in a jail cell,” Orange County People for Animals activist Charlotte Gordon concedes to the Times that the animal rights movement might have an image problem,
[Gordon] . . . concedes the public hasn’t been won over. “We need to change [the impression] that we’re trying to take something away from them. That’s what people are thinking, that we’re trying to take away the fun. We’re just trying to take away the animals.”
In other words, people are absolutely correct in thinking that activists want to take away something important in their lives — namely, traditional interactions with animals.
Activists want to take away circuses with animals. They want to take away animal-based foods. They want to take away animal-based medical research. They want to take away aquariums and zoos and hunting, and many of them even want to take away domestic pets.
The problem for Gordon and her ilk is that people understand exactly what animal rights activists want to take away.
Ringmaster is needed to monitor this debate. Dana Parsons, Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2005.