An announcement that will surely be celebrated by many Animal people, Ringling Brothers announced over the weekend they will be closing down their circus operation. After 146 years, the curtain is coming down on what owners termed “The Greatest Show on Earth”.
The iconic American spectacle was felled by a variety of factors, company executives say. Chairman and CEO Kenneth Feld claims “Declining attendance combined with high operating costs, along with changing public tastes and prolonged battles with animal rights groups all contributed to the decision.” In reality though, Ringling Bros paid the price for continued exploitation of Animals, for which the public is slowly turning against.
Recent years has seen increased focus on Circus animals, especially in Western countries. Elephants, Lions, Tigers, and other animals bred in captivity, or brought in from foreign lands, were the staple of early circuses. That the animals led horrid lives was not really a consideration. With time, and as the public gradually became educated, questions were raised over the continued exploitation of intelligent animals kept in tiny cages, or paraded around doing tricks for our amusement. This trend will we hope continue.
It remains to be seen what will happen in eastern and other cultures. We filmed an episode of our TV Show “The Operatives” in Indonesia last year, and their circuses were an absolute disgrace. One of the most poignant moments was the team witnessing a Sunbear cry in its tiny enclosure. We were there to rescue dolphins, and yet the Sunbear broke Stéphane’s heart. Western countries at least are making moves in the right direction in terms of treatment of animals, however other areas lag a long way behind.