A Closer Look at Animals in the Circus. “Just before the elephants go on stage to perform, handlers strike them with bullhooks—heavy, steel-tipped devices —to intimidate them, remind them -who’s boss,” said Delcianna Winders, Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement in a special interview to the Bilingual Weekly.
By Mayra Barrios
STOCKTON, CA – Trapeze artists floating through the air, elephants, comical clowns, and animals under a big top have created the circus into a magical and fun environment that has entertained families for generations.
But many claim that the magical feeling disappears behind the scenes for the animals that
perform for the entertainment of spectators.
“Just before the elephants go on stage to perform, handlers strike them with bullhooks—heavy, steel-tipped devices —to intimidate them, remind them -who’s boss,” said Delcianna Winders, Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement in a special interview to the Bilingual Weekly.
In order to regulate the treatment like the one mentioned by Winders, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) ,was created back in 1966 and amended several times since then to regulate the use of animals used in research or exhibited to the public.
Regulations that circuses often fail to meet, “virtually every circus that uses animals has been repeatedly cited for violations of the AWA,” says Winders.
One of the circuses often criticized for not following the standard of the AWA is the Ringling
Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
But according to the Ringling Bros website, “Our staff consists of animal experts who devote their lives to living, working with and caring for animals. In all aspects of animal care and safety, Ringling Bros. exceeds all federal animal welfare standards set …under the Animal Welfare Act”
“Inspectors rarely follow up when they find evidence of abuse, such as scars and wounds,
because there are no witnesses and the victims—i.e., the animals—can’t talk,” explains Winders.
In recent years many campaigns aim to ban of the use of animals in circuses by educating both law makers and the public about things they should know before purchasing a tickets to the circus.
Circus Vargas with more than 40 years in the circus industry- without risking the lives of
animals, achieves to captivate the audience attention with the thrill of trapeze artists and agile acrobats.
“Elephants‘ ability to feel pain—as well as sorrow, joy, and happiness—rivals our own,” says
“They [animals] spend their lives in extreme confinement, endure grueling traveling schedules, and are trained and handled through pain and fear,” said Winders when describing the lifestyle of the constant movement and travel of circuses.
- Known Mexican Circus Comes to Town (bwnews.us)
- Northern California Animal Welfare Agencies Call for Boycott of Ringling Bros. Circus (prweb.com)
- Elephants: Beloved and controversial stars of the circus (heraldnet.com)
- In Circus Elephant Spat, Animal Rights Group Wants Revival Of Claims (legaltimes.typepad.com)
- PETA Picketers Say Ringling Bros. Tortures Baby Elephants (blogs.sfweekly.com)
- USDA: Remove the Collapsing Elephant from the Ringling Bros. Circus | LA County: Cancel Cruel Elephant Rides (ourcompass.wordpress.com)
- The Elephant in the Room (eastsidecurry.com)
- In Everett, the circus arrives and so do protests (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- In Everett, the circus arrives and so do protests (thenewstribune.com)
- For the entertainment of spectators (bwnews.us)