By Kelsey Joseph
The “Greatest Show on Earth” is the worst for the animals that perform in it.
From Thursday through Sunday, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performed at Rupp Arena.
I have spent hours researching what the beautiful animals of the Ringling Bros. circus endure but witnessed it firsthand Thursday.
Human beings need to ditch their narcissistic views and realize there are other living beings on this planet with real emotions and hopes for basic rights.
Originally, I went searching around Rupp for protesters that were rumored to be there.
When I walked around to the back of the arena, I reached a fence curtained with green covers. It was obvious the circus animals were temporarily housed within the perimeters of the fence. I think that the barriers were put up so viewers could not see the conditions in which the animals were being kept.
Anyone who has a dog knows they have a way of sensing and judging situations. As I walked toward the fence, my own dog started freaking out.
He did not want to go any closer and started to run the other way.
That was when I spotted three white Arabian horses. These typically graceful and gorgeous horses were being led into the arena by trainers.
I also caught a glimpse of the many tigers confined in one small cage.
Those majestic creatures are meant to roam and be free in the wild, not to be caged and scared into performing for human entertainment. One specific Siberian tiger was pacing back and forth in the cage, while the others started to fight with each other.
I took a few photos, which appeared to upset the tigers. If they do not like to be photographed, they clearly do not enjoy performing for large audiences.
I knew the elephants were close by, since I could hear their shackles scraping the concrete and their noises of frustration as they tried to escape the chains.
As I was staring in horror at these poor animals, I saw a woman in the parking lot staring at me with a smirk on her face. I walked over to her car and started to chat with her. She is a teacher at a Fayette County school and, for that reason, would not provide me with her name.
She told me that circuses were good for animals and she supports them all the way. Although this woman infuriated me, I decided to listen to her argument.
She claims Ringling Bros. rehabilitates its animals and they have a better life in the circus than they would in the wild.
It is not a human’s right to decide what is best for these animals.
They may be better protected in the circus, in terms of poachers and having food readily available, but I’m sure they would rather escape poachers and hunt their own for food than be held captive.
Ringling Bros. agreed to pay $270,000 in fines to the USDA in 2011 for the mistreatment of a sick elephant named Banko, according to a CBS News report.
Banko “was forced to perform at a show in Los Angeles despite a diagnosis of sand colic and observations that she appeared to be suffering abdominal discomfort,” according to CBS.
Other violationss were also cited in the USDA report, according to CBS.
The government has guidelines for animal welfare, but they are not strong enough.
It is up to us, the consumers, to say we do not want these kinds of entertainment services anymore. It is our responsibility as human beings to say “enough is enough” and to put an end to dominating and confining other beings on this earth we share.
Kelsey Joseph is an ISC senior. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.