Ringling Brothers is performing in Portland with a legacy long outdated. Ringling established their circus in 1884, when the natural environment was viewed as a frontier to be conquered. Adventurers from Europe and the New World, hungry for excitement, slaughtered countless wild animals to bring home exotic trophies.
Yet in 2012, when wildlife is becoming more rare and precious, threatened species are exploited for profit. Ringling has paid hefty fines for violations of the Animal Welfare Act back to 2007. Violent methods are used to train the animals. For example, baby elephants are torn away from their mothers, whipped and treated by electric shock to learn how to perform circus tricks.
Elephants are both intelligent and long-lived. I would urge parents to teach their children to regard them with respect. We pride ourselves on leading the world in moral issues. Yet the United Kingdom is forging ahead on legislation to outlaw this barbaric practice.
Surely the talent of the human performers is sufficient to create an entertaining show. Cirque du Soleil combines excellent entertainment with a successful business without mistreating animals. Why can't Ringling Brothers follow suit, and join the 21st century?