Letter to the editor -
On June 22, the animal-focused Cirque Estival is scheduled to perform in Gander. After reading this letter, I hope you will make an informed choice not to attend, along with making your displeasure known to the Town Council.
Did you know that animals exploited for human entertainment endure years of appalling physical and psychological pain and suffering in traveling acts? That they pose threats to public health and safety, are currently not adequately regulated by law, and do not conserve endangered species as so often claimed?
Common sense dictates that elephants don't eagerly stand on their heads, and tigers don't naturally jump through hoops; they must be rendered submissive first. Training tools and methods used throughout their lives include chaining, food and water deprivation, bullhooks, whips, clubs, blunt objects, and electric prods. In addition, they may be transported over long distances in vehicles that lack climate control and forced to stand or lie in their own waste. It's no wonder that out of frustration and rage, animals used in circuses have been responsible for over 100 human injuries, including casualties, worldwide since 1990. In addition, elephants may carry tuberculosis (TB) and can infect humans with the bacterial disease.
Circuses are not designed for educational or conservational purposes. Watching wild animals that have been enslaved and forced to perform for human entertainment teaches our children that it's acceptable to exploit animals, not to respect them, and it certainly doesn't help animals in the wild.
In 2009, the Cirque Estival was found by the Nova Scotia SPCA Provincial Cruelty Inspectors to be in direct violation of more than 11 of Nova Scotia's circus standards. These covered a variety of areas ranging from lack of companionship and stimulation for social species, to improper shelter for big cats, to safety violations regarding minimum distances between the animals and people.
Animal-free circuses and entertainment, such as Cirque du Soleil, are increasing as the use of wild animals becomes more and more recognized as archaic, unsafe, cruel and inhumane. Progressive-thinking Newfoundland and Labrador municipalities, like Clarenville, Mount Pearl, and St. John's, have already banned the use of wild and exotic animals for public entertainment. Shouldn't all municipalities do the same?