Activist on Need to Change Impressions, If Not Ideology

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.

PETA Protests Circus; Concedes It Does Not Know of Any Instances of Abuse

On July 19, four animal rights activists work with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals stood outside the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, Washington, complaining about the abuse that animals face in circuses. Unfortunately, even PETA had to concede it didn’t know of a single instance of animal abuse by the Circus Gatti.

Protester Cari McCole, 19, told the Monroe Herald that,

I thought we should come out and let people know what’s going on and educate them about animal abuse.

Hmm But, the newspaper reported (emphasis added),

The protest was organized in cooperation with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, an animal rights group based in Norfolk, Va., McCole said. They plan to continue the protest through Thursday, she [McCole] said.

Lisa Wathne, a PETA specialist in captive exotic animals, said the group opposes circuses in general, but isn’t aware of any specific animal abuse history involving Circus Gattie at the Monroe fairgrounds.

Using that sort of logic, one might argue that some animal rights activists engage in terrorism. I can’t think of a single instance of Wathne committing such an act, but she should be banned on principle from public appearances.

Gotta love that animal rights logic.


Activists protest circus in Monroe. Yoshiaki Nohara, Monroe Herald, July 20, 2005.

PETA vs. Ringling Bros.

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star published a story in March on the ongoing debate between Ringling Bros. and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

In the profile, Ringling Bros. accuses People for the Ethical Treatment of animals of putting forth a fictional representation of the circus, while PETA accuses Ringling Bros. of being one of the cruelest circuses and of being “Baby Killers” after a young elephant at the circus died in July 2004.

PETA’s Brandi Valladolid told the Daily Free Lance-Star,

We’ve been protesting Ringling Bros. for a very long time. Ringling Bros. is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to animal welfare and animal care.

. . .

[Parents should not bring their children to a Ringling Bros. circus because] Kids pick up on things we don’t think they see. They see the animals getting whipped. They see the ringmaster hitting them. It teaches a very dangerous lesson — that it’s OK to abuse animals; OK to exploit them for entertainment.

Meanwhile Ringling Bros. spokesman Darin Johnson told the newspaper that PETA’s web site attacking the circus is filled with misinformation. For example, Johnson says video footage there distorts the events surrounding the birth of an elephant at the circus. According to the Daly Free Lance-Star,

He [Johnson] said the online video of the birth only shows the calf being pulled away from the mother for its own protection and doesn’t show it being returned to her when she calmed down.

Johnson said the calf was taken away, checked and returned, just as human babies are examined by doctors then returned to their mothers.

Johnson also told the Daily Free Lance-Star that online video at PETA’s site purports to showing elephants being whipped by Ringling Bros. employees, but that the video is in fact not of Ringling Bros. elephants or employees. The Daily Free Lance-Star quoted Johnson as saying,

They took footage from every zoo and animal park in the world and spliced it together.


PETA decries circus’s ethics. Michael Zitz, March 25, 2005.

Circuses — Cruel By Definition?

Ran across a story from the Corvallis Gazette-Times from April about a group of local activists protesting the Circus Gatti’s appearance in Corvallis, Oregon.

Eight protesters from Citizens Against Circus Cruelty showed up, at least one dressed up like a clown.

Now usually, activists protesting circuses tend to distribute leaflets outlining alleged abuses by this circus or that, often accompanied by photos alleged to be abused circus animals. But Citizens Against Circus Cruelty has no need for evidence of any sort. According to organizer Nettie Schwager (emphasis added),

The public needs to be made aware of the animal cruelty in circuses. All circuses that use animals by definition mistreat animals.

There you have it — Schwager’s right by definition. Of course, that’s a pretty twisted dictionary she’s using.


Activists protest circus. Mary Ann Albright, Corvallis Gazette-Times, April 2, 2005.

Tel-Aviv Bans Circuses With Animal Acts

In March, Israeli animal rights group Anonymous for Animal Rights succeeded in persuading Tel-Aviv to ban animal circus acts within the city.

According to a press release from the group,

We are happy to announce that we successfully completed our campaign against animal circus acts, as the Municipality of Tel-Aviv banned animal circus acts.

The Mayor of Tel-Aviv, Ron Huldai, instructed the municipality to avoid any future contracts with circuses that use animals of any sort in their shows.

Its unclear, however, how permanent such a ban is if it depends on the whims of a single individual.


Tel-Aviv bans circus animal acts. Press Release, Anonymous for Animal Rights, March 13, 2005.

API Goes Mobile With Anti-Circus Billboard

Unable to find an outdoor billboard company willing to display its latest anti-circus billboard, the Animal Protection Institute has created a mobile 22-foot mobile billboard, presumably attached to the side of a truck, to drive around areas where circuses appear.

The mobile billboard made its debut in January protesting a Jacksonville, Florida, appearance of Ringling Bros. Circus. The billboard shows a chained elephant with the text, “Would you chain your dog for most of her life? Why Pay a Circus to do it to Elephants?”

In a press release announcing the mobile billboard, API’s Michelle Thew said,

If the depiction of life for these animals is too graphic to be shown on a billboard, the reality is too graphic for them to endure in the circus. Protestors will be outside the arena on Wednesday with a clear message — the catalog of misery that circus animals endure must come to an end. This is not family entertainment.


Opening Night of Ringling Bros. Circus to Attract Protest. Press Release, Animal Protection Institute, January 26, 2005.