Ask circus to stop using animals

For children, it’s exciting to see huge, live animals perform alongside clowns and acrobats. That, as well as the dangerous stunts by humans, will most likely be the draw today as the the Garden Bros. Circus puts on two shows at the Saranac Lake Civic Center.

Many circuses are entertaining, such as the Billy Martin Circus that came to town less than a month ago. It did a great job while limiting its animal acts to dogs, and we commend it on making that choice.

Garden Bros. Circus could perhaps also be entertaining without its elephants, camels, etc. It performed without elephants last week in Vermont due to that state’s regulations about exotic animals.

Circuses with animals are very controversial these days. If you peel away the big tent, loud music and bright lights, you might see hints of a sad reality. Garden Bros. insists it treats its animals well and decries circuses that don’t, but government inspections are so infrequent that it’s really hard to tell.

Even so, the track record isn’t stellar. Garden Bros. and its related brands are among the circuses the U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited for severe animal abuse and neglect in recent years. Not only is the animals’ treatment not always humane, but it can be a danger to the audience, as when Carson & Barnes had elephants escape from a circus venue in 2016.

You might only see a slight lameness or stiffness and shrug it off, but behind the scenes, at least some elephants’ legs or trunks are being beaten, jabbed by bull hooks similar to fireplace pokers, to bully the animals into submission. After all, how else do you get such a massive creature to do something as unnatural as sit on a stool and put its front legs in the air, while balancing a lady on top?

Remember, a circus is like any other business that is trying to survive and give the customers a unique experience. It will follow the cues of customers who voice their opinions. Whether you like what you see or not, it always helps management when you give your feedback, civilly. Managers can then make changes to better the experience for future customers.

So if you agree with us, let Garden Bros. know you like some circus acts but not the animal ones. Hopefully they will take your suggestion.