Humans need to respect rights of animals

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

@John, You are not bright enough, to make enough money, to buy 50 tickets. You are a pathetic human being, that has nothing better to do than to troll. Go get an education, dimwit.

Great article Kelsey! People who believe that having elephants (& other wild animals in traveling circuses) is humane need to educate themselves, or just use your common sense and think about things for a minute. Simply go online and read up on it. If you don’t want to do that, like I said, think logically. Think of the size of the elephant. Think about how and where the elephant would have to be kept during various times of a typical day, 365 days of the year, as part of a traveling circus. The FACTS are that elephants (& tigers & other wild animals) are horribly and cruelly confined in order to be transported about the country and only temporarily kept at the various locations for usually a day or two. They are typically chained by the ankle and forced to stand such that they can move only a step or two in any direction, and kept this way almost every hour of each 24 hr. day. Sometimes after setting up the circus tent is completed they may have an extremely small outside area surrounded by a electric fence. During the night, and in bad weather,they are forced to spend it inside a truck. And of course when they are en route to their next location they are confined and hauled around in the back of trucks for hours and hours, and then when arriving at their destination have to stay in those trucks typically for many more hours while waiting for things to get setup. Ringling Bros. transports most of the time via trains 50 boxcars, with their Red and Blue Units each covering 16,000 miles annually to perform in 30-plus cities. Data in court case testimony re Ringling revealed that the elephants traveled 26 hours straight on average. Some legs extended beyond 70 hours without a break. The longest stretch: 100 hours on a 1,830-mile journey from Lexington, Kentucky, to Tucson, Arizona. Up to five elephants are crammed in each boxcar. The average elephant produces approximately 15 gallons of urine and 200-plus pounds of solid waste in a 24-hour period. Former circus workers described the unbearable stench when they opened the cars for water stops—during which they typically replenished supplies without letting the animals out. For more on this read this Pulitzer Prize winning article: So I have only touched on the confinement. There also is the extremely well documented, and admitted to, physically abusive training techniques that are how the elephants are forced to do the “tricks” for the circusgoer’s amusement. Just educate yourself by visiting any one of countless respected websites, such as those of ADI (Animal Defenders International),, Also there is an excellent very detailed extensive publication by Animal Defenders International on the Science of Suffering (re wild animals in traveling circuses) which you can read:

You are an honest, beautiful voice for the voiceless animals. Please keep it up! Learn about the “crush boxes”, the connection between zoos & circuses and all the other forms of animal abuse throughout the world as THEY need your voice! The truth is Animal Rights is About Human Wrongs! Keep inquiring & writing!

Ignorance is bliss for the Fayette School Teacher who believes that the circus treats their animal performers humanely. With the internet at our fingertips there’s no excuse for not educating yourself about the natural behaviors of elephants and other exotic animals. These animals are deprived of almost all of their natural behaviors save eating and drinking. Shame on this teacher.
Check out what a “true elephant sanctuary” looks like and how they treat the elephants in their care. Then it becomes very apparent that the circus exploits these elephants for profit and then says they are protecting an endangered species. In the U.S. check out The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald Tennessee, PAWS in San Andres CA. In Africa the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has been rescuing orphaned baby elephants, raises them and returns them to the wild. In Thailand check out these sanctuaries who rescue abused elephants, Boon Lott Elephant Sanctuary and Elephant Nature Park. You will “never” see any of these elephants being made to perform unnatural tricks for entertainment.

In San Francisco a group of guys were having fun teasing the tigers after hours at the zoo. Nobody imagined that a tiger could leap that far, but she was so angered that she came up out of that pit, killing one guy and mauling the others before being shot. So sad for the tiger.

You are a very good writer! I have refused to go to circuses with animals for years. I will not allow my children to go either. I have been to TN to the Elephant Refuge & it’s so sad. YOu can see their pain in their sad eyes, it breaks my heart!

What we sow, we shall reap; I have found those words to be truthful. I am so glad to be a compassionate person, and not a jerk who thinks cruelty to animals is funny.

I have been to a circus and the animals appeared totally miserable. I was amazed that I seemed to be the only one in the audience who could see the misery. The tigers were continually pulling back their faces and blinking during the performance to avoid being whipped in the face. Imagine what it would take to convince a tiger to jump through a hoop of fire, or 8,000 lb elephants to stand on their heads. These tricks are frightening and painful, and the animals perform them out of fear of punishment. I wish people would understand this and not support these circuses by buying tickets.