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Sun, Sept. 22

Miner Editorial | Circuses are a relic of the past, time to move forward

Bowie (Photo courtesy of Keepers of the Wild)

Bowie (Photo courtesy of Keepers of the Wild)

A circus with exotic performance animals is coming to town, and it has caused an uproar.

Any time a circus rolls through or is mentioned, there are always arguments for and against it. Discussions tend to revolve around animal abuse versus educational opportunities.

There is a time and place for educational aspects about these exotic animals. But watching an animal fight all of its natural instincts is not one of them.

We have a fantastic animal sanctuary where children can learn about habitats and feeding patterns. Keepers of the Wild isn’t so far away that anyone willing to learn can’t get there. They have done an excellent job rescuing exotic performance animals who have been mistreated and abused.

Our children should learn about these animals, that much isn’t in question. Especially when it comes to their endangerment and protecting their habitats.

But circuses aren’t an educational institution. They are an entertainment entity.

Circuses aren’t inherently evil. Training regimens for the animals can be intense, and training a tiger to stand on its hind legs or jump through a ring of fire goes against those natural instincts. Some circuses are abusive in their handling of animals, some aren’t.

However, what can always be stated as mistreatment, especially of these large cats, is keeping them in small enclosed spaces.

Let’s just take tigers for an example.

The average size of a tiger is 4.8 to 9.5 feet long, and they weigh anywhere from 165 to 716 pounds. The Siberian tiger, the largest tiger subspecies, is 10.75 feet long and weighs 660 pounds. The smallest tiger subspecies, the Sumatran tiger is 5 to 12 feet long and weighs between 143 and 670 pounds.

All of this discounts their tail length, which can add 2.3 to 3.6 feet.

And these animals are kept in 5 feet by 7 feet cages. The cages, then, on average would be smaller than the tigers themselves.

None of this takes into account that a tiger in the wild has a massive amount of territory. A Siberian tiger’s territory can be over 4,000 square miles. The cages are less than 0.0002 percent of that amount of space.

To say it is abuse to keep them in a small rectangle is a bit of an understatement.

And that is only one of the types of exotic animals that circuses often use in performances.

In 2017, the City made a promise to the citizens. They resolved to be against animal abuse and inhumane treatment. They stopped short then of passing an ordinance that would ban performing animals, with the exception of rural activities such as FFA, 4-H and rodeos.

They failed to keep their promised proclamation.

To say you are against animal abuse and mistreatment, then to not go through with a ban does nothing to keep your word to the citizens. In the face of the law, that proclamation isn’t worth anything. The City did try to refuse the circus a permit, but they legally could not withhold that special performance permit.

So now it is time to put it in legal terms. To keep the promise made in 2017. To put your money where your mouth is and stand up to the mistreatment of performance animals.

Every dog has its day, and the day of circus-animal performances is setting.

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