My head

Is the Circus Un-PC?

April 30, 2013
Disclaimer - Not a real circus elephant....this one's a famous actress.

Disclaimer – Not a real circus elephant….this one’s a famous actress.

As a little girl I really loved the circus.

Not Cirque Du Fancy Pants, Grande Chapiteau type circus, but the real McCoy, Big Top, lions and clowns and folk that date their cousins type circus.

When one was in town a while ago, a little flame of excitement sprang into my belly and I thought ‘cooooooooool’.

I imagined awesome photos for a photo blog, and having a cracking family day out with the colourful, carnival folk. I envisaged myself and D Man sitting there, breathing sighs of awe and wonder at the trapeze, tonguing fairy floss straight from the stick that leaves splinters in your tongue, and squealing with delight at the dancing horses (well, at least, that’s what I would be doing, he’d probably be picking his nose and eating it, or flicking popcorn into the hair of the lady in front)…..but when I mentioned it to a friend they said  ‘no way, I don’t give my money to them. They have animals.’

Dancing horses are bad? I guess they are, aren’t they. With their spangly head dresses and scantily clad girls riding them.

Now, I’ll admit that I did think it was illegal to have lions and tigers and bears (oh, my) these days but they make the whole circus idea also got a bit more exciting. D Man LOVES lions and tigers………. now it was suuuuuuuuuuuuper cooooooooool.

Then I felt bad for not being more PC, and animal activist-esque. Is the circus no longer the done thing?

Oh no!! I love the circus. Those ponies are so clever.

Speaking of clever ponies… What about equestrian riding?

I’m sure that some of my readers would be pony lovers, so is equestrian ok? What’s the diff?

Jodhpurs and sensible headwear versus spangled g-strings and tiaras?

Miranda Kerr - splitting the difference.

Miranda Kerr – splitting the difference.

Is it bad that I want my kids to experience the wonder and magic of the Big Top… To smell the saw dust and see the Ring Master call in the clowns.
sexy ringmaster
Obviously, I don’t support emaciated bears or moth eaten lions, but I imagine if the animal is already a circus animal, it can’t be released into the National Park.

Wouldn’t the RSPCA be all over circus’, with their seriously strict codes of practice?

I guess by supporting them it encourages the practice to continue.

The ad for Stardust Circus (it even sounds like magic, doesn’t it?) says that the animals are treated like part of the family, so maybe they’re really loved. Maybe the lions are invited to Sunday roast and the monkeys all get pissed and give each other wedgies, just like real families do.

I’ve been going through the whole thing in my head. If the circus is no longer a PC past time, what about the zoo? Is the zoo out too?

I friggen’ love the zoo.

Does it depend on the level of accuracy in the enclosure – how alike their natural habitat it is, or are they all out?
I get that a flea bitten mangy lion is not a lion in his prime, more than that, it is a crime against nature, but if they are well looked after, does that make a difference?

We went to Mogo Zoo down on the South Coast. It was a small zoo, specialising in endangered species rehabilitation. They had bred some of these endangered species in captivity, thereby propagating the species. That’s a good thing, right?

As long as the animal is endangered, and in a breeding program it’s ok?

Just to recap, as long as it’s endangered,  it didn’t arrive in the country smuggled in a tube up someone’s butt (bird and reptiles, not big game), and is willing to procreate, we’re good to go.

It’s seems like there’s a hell of a lot of grey area here, no?

Anyway, I’m on the fence.

As a child, I loved the circus, as an adult, I get that it’s unethical.

Bloody hell, I hate being an adult sometimes.

What are your thoughts?

Would you go to the circus?

Blogging on Tuesday with my fellow iboters over at EssentiallyJess.

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  • Reply tric April 30, 2013 at 8:12 am

    I personally can no longer enjoy the circus. But I have let my kids go with my husband and others. its very hard to deny them the joy of the memories before we developed a conscience.

  • Reply coloursofsunset April 30, 2013 at 8:50 am

    I have never been to a circus, and I always wonder if we should take Nick whenever one comes through town, but we never get around to doing it. Not because of the ethical side of it necessarily, we’re usually just too busy. It is a bit of a grey area, isn’t it? I’m still trying to figure out how you’d smuggle a budgie in a tube up your bum. youchies!

  • Reply Kate April 30, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Circus is bad because the animals are not able to behave in a natural way, they are often stressed by the constant moving and the enclosures are archaic and depressing. I’m mostly talking big cats, bears and elephants not ponies and dogs. I’m pretty sure the RSPCA is against circus animals.
    Zoo is good because they are trying to preserve all the animals that man is destroying. They try to make the animals lives as natural as they can within the obvious limits.
    I understand its grey area to many but to me it’s black and white. Circus with wild animals = bad. Quality zoo = good. Cirque du sole = pase.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys April 30, 2013 at 11:50 am

      You mean lions don’t jump through hoops in the wild???? I think you’re right, Kate. I’m awaiting a circus lady to leave a comment on my Facebook page. I’m looking forward to hearing a view from the other side.

      • Reply Kate April 30, 2013 at 12:34 pm

        Yes, I’m really interested in what the circus lady has to say also. I’m in no doubt the circus people with exotics do the very best they can for the animals and love them very much but that doesn’t make it ok.

  • Reply Kate April 30, 2013 at 11:46 am

    RSPCA says no to circus with exotic animals.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys April 30, 2013 at 11:59 am

      ….I am a little surprised that it’s legal, TBH. Also, those bendy girls in Cirque should be outlawed too.

  • Reply Bunny Eats Design April 30, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Dude, I haven’t seen exotic animals at a circus in a long time. Are you saying they still do that in the civilized world? I’ve been to Cirque du Fancy Pants and they didn’t have a single non-human, though they seemed to have super-humans.

    I remember going to a circus about 15 years ago and even they didn’t have exotic animals. They did have a whole troup of doggies that did great jumping, standing and balancing tricks. Yeah, I figured that even back then that exotics were out and domestics were in. But if they still exist, the maybe that “circus” I went to was just a bunch of country hicks with too much time on their hands and a few smart dogs.

  • Reply Have a laugh on me April 30, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    I gotta say I’m torn – because if the animals are born and bred in captivity, then maybe they are happy. However, I’m sure there are peeps out there that want ALL animals to be let loose. But if those born in captivity are born and breed with humans, what chance do they have in the real world, – NOT MUCH!

  • Reply EssentiallyJess April 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Extending the argument even further, is it ok to have pets? We have a gorgeous love bird, but he spends most of his time in a small cage. Is that alright? Or should we set him free?

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys April 30, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      Exactly. I would never get a bird, for that reason (that, and the bird seed all over the show!!), but if you did set him free, he would surely die. That’s a crap solution. He would have been bred for this purpose and he knows no different.

      I have no answers for this, only questions.

      Would you go to the circus? It’s coming next month……

  • Reply Twitchy (@TwitchyCorner) May 1, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    My daughter is always on at me to take her to a Circus, she’s never been to one in her life. I’m so torn by the pc-ness and wanting her to experience it at least once before it’s gone forever.

    I saw the campaign to release the elephant from the circus too- but what the protesters did not account for was the fact that as a life-hand-reared-by-humans animal, talking her away from her only known herd would have been far more detrimental to her well being. I think we all know the days of these acts are heading to their natural end and will focus more on domestic animals and human acrobatics. #teamIBOT

  • Reply bybeckyh May 1, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    We took our girls to the Moscow Circus for a birthday treat, I had never been to a circus before and we decided we could go to this one as they don’t have animal performers, just amazing human feats. Although, in the end there was some ponies clop around, but what I saw wasn’t that different to what I see on the Olympics or so on (as you said).
    The difference between the circus and the zoo is purely that the circus has them for entertainment value only. Zoos are there to help save species which are endangered through breeding programs, yes, but also through their talks and information they provide in the hope that they can help us change our habits to help them. If that makes sense. I know that, since starting to visit zoos we have made many changes as a family such as cutting out products containing palm oil.
    I love Mogo Zoo. Don’t know if you can tell, I am a bit passionate about what they’re doing 😉 But, I know where you’re coming from.

    • Reply bybeckyh May 1, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      Sorry for writing a novel!

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys May 1, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      It is a tricky one. In my heart, I do know why it’s unethical, and I don’t support the exploitation of animals. I just loved the circus before I knew that other stuff.
      Mogo is cool, huh!

  • Reply Kelly Maynard May 7, 2013 at 12:28 am

    Hi everyone.
    I found this article fascinating to hear one persons opinion of traditional style circus shows.
    However I thought you may be interested in an insider’s perspective?

    I am a 20 year old,6th generation circus performer who currently tours my performing dog act with Eroni’s Circus.
    I must admit,I find the attitude displayed by some of the commenters here regarding circus animals a little hurtful and offensive. (Particularly the remarks about not enjoying circuses due to developing a conscience,depressing enclosures,etc)

    Also (and I realise you may not have meant this intentionally) some of the stereotypes suggested in the main article are also quite degrading.

    In Australia the word “carnie” is an extremely derogatory term to use toward circus people.
    And the inbred circus people joke is similar to making a slur against a particular race or religion.

    As I was born into this lifestyle,growing up it has not been uncommon to face prejudice and negative stereotypes.
    That we are relics,backwards and politically incorrect.
    However I know many of these arise from simple ignorance about our culture and how circus life (for the people and animals) works.

    In particular I find the negative reputation regarding animal welfare terribly upsetting.
    I offer a link,for those interested,to my circus’ website.
    We include a page on our animal care to offer a scientific and rational insight into circus animal welfare.

    I have often struggled with way that some people in Australia perceive circus arts and culture as lowly.
    I find this surprising,for in Europe,circuses (true circuses with all manner of performing animals) are patronised by royalty to this day.
    The annual “Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival” is held by Monaco’s Royal Family.
    Featured are acts by circus people and animals from around the world.
    It is an extremely prestigious event and as any spectator can tell you,gives the Cirque du Soliel shows a real run for their money.

    Some seem to think that Cirque du Soliel has spelt the death of traditional circuses.

    This is hardly the case.
    I can tell you first hand that traditional style circuses are still very popular.
    We frequently show to full crowds and positive reviews.
    There are currently about 15 traditional style circuses touring Australia most of which include animals. This is a spike in circus numbers compared to 40 years ago.

    I am happy to answer any questions anyone might have.
    I have always been keen to educate people on what true circus life is like and would love to hear any input and interesting discussion.


    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys May 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      Kelly, hi! Thank you so much for your thoughtful and insightful response. Of course, I would love to engage in a conversation with you.
      Firstly, I write with a very large tongue in my cheek, and I offer my apologies for any comments you found to be derogatory or defaming.
      I completely hear what you’re saying and I would never make a racial slur, and will therefore change the term carnie. I’m not changing the cousins joke, however. I hope you understand that humour is just part of my blog, and my humor is mostly inappropriate! I mean no offense.

      I check out the link you sent through, and it appears that your circus is more farm and domestic animals. I think what people are referring to mostly is the larger game species. Lions and tigers etc.

      I habe always thought that running away and joining the circus is actually a pretty glamorous thing to do, and I feel that the traveling lifestyle would actually have many pros and cons for a young person.

      If you would like to chat with me, perhaps I could write an account of your story?
      If that doesn’t interest you, please know that I only try to incite discussion. I said I do not have an answer to this, I just wanted my readers to think about it, and share their thoughts…. as I love that you have shared yours.

      Thanks once again for your response, D.

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