“To me, clowns aren’t funny. In fact, they’re kind of scary. I’ve wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus and a clown killed my dad.” -Jack Handy
In my post about the Sea World tragedy last week, I mentioned how my friends have pretty much stopped inviting me on any Sea World trips. At least when I decline, I’m nice about it.
However, I neglected to mention the e-mail response I sent to the well meaning woman in my mom’s group who suggested we all take a group trip to the Ringling Brothers circus last year. I can’t say I was too diplomatic at all about that response, in which I helpfully included some links to all the abuses suffered by the exotic animals in their care. I went all “Water for Elephants” on her, truth be told.
Her response was a horrified, “I had no idea!” which was hopefully sincere and not just an attempt to tame the crazy lady. I think she meant it. Either way, the topic never came up again.
I declared a long time ago that I would never again set foot in a circus that used elephants, big cats, or any other exotics as part of their act. The history of animal abuse in the circus circuit is long and well-established, unfortunately. I’ve been hitting up the Cirque du Soleil shows every time they come to town instead, and haven’t looked back.
It was with a great degree of trepidation that I saw a big tent being erected in the parking lot of our local mall. Circus Vargas, it proclaimed. They’ve been around California for decades. They’ve been pestered (and deservedly so) for many years by PeTA for their treatment of the animals and elephants in particular- and I’m the first to admit, as extreme and reactionary as a lot of their actions are, they aren’t always wrong.
I went to their website today. I’m not sure why. Needing to stoke the fires of indignation? Imagine my surprise to find no mention whatsoever of their elephants, tigers, or bears. Trust me, I looked and looked.
They don’t have them anymore.
I’m sure this wasn’t a decision of conscience- wouldn’t they try to talk it up if it were? I imagine it was financial more than anything, the cost of maintaining these animals coupled with the fines they were slammed with over and over and over. I don’t care what the reason is. All I know is that the show is now, as it should be, just clowns, trapezes, and tightrope walkers.
So here is the question. I think the kids would enjoy seeing the show, and as it is described now I think I would too. I honestly didn’t think I would see the day when a traditional circus toured without that element that made it so objectionable. 10 years ago, attending would never have been an option. But times have changed, and I’m trying to decide how I feel about supporting a business that was guilty of some terrible actions in the past, but has been forced to evolve into something that is now OK.
I’m torn, because I remember this very circus and what they used to do. On the other hand, we know in the past circuses used to exploit not only animals but people with physical conditions. Change can happen, and part of me thinks that regardless of whether that change came from conscience or outside motivators, I can express my approval with agreeing to give it a chance. Besides, if they shut down, who’s left for everyone to go to? These guys.
Would you go?
ETA: I received an e-mail from Joan Hart, the Marketing Director from Circus Vargas, and she confirmed that the circus does not have animals in their shows (and apparently hasn’t for some time.) Yay Circus Vargas! Thank you!
I thank you all for your thoughts. This is good. I am going to call and get tickets now. 🙂