First, in honor of the holiday, I’ll mention that Dexter King is, and the late Coretta Scott King was, vegan. Both saw veganism as a natural extension of Dr. King’s nonviolence philosophy.
Now, onto the victory:
On Saturday, officials of the company that owns the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that it will close in May, ending a 146-year run that dates back to a time before automobiles or airplanes or movies, when Ulysses S. Grant was president and minstrel shows were popular entertainment.
What killed the circus? There are many suspects: increased railroad costs. Costly court battles with animal rights activists that led to an end to elephant acts — and the fact that some people didn’t want to see a show without elephants.
Or with any other captive, tormented creature.
Although some may feel a nostalgic pang, keep in mind that:
1) Ringling was an egregious serial animal abuser and violator of the Animal Welfare Act.
2) Even absent “official abuse” the circus is truly the “cruelest show on earth,” subjecting beautiful wild animals to kidnapping and family separations, prolonged confinements, and cruel “training” methods.
3) You can have some good circus fun absent the cruelty and abuse.
This is a particularly sweet victory coming mere months after SeaWorld’s announcement that it will cease orca breeding and performances, and TripAdvisor’s announcement that it will delist many animal-themed entertainments. One day–and probably sooner than we all think–live-animal entertainment will be considered an embarrassing relic, and we’ll all be grooving on virtual attractions and wondering what all the fuss was about.
There’s been some effort to dilute the role of animal activists in this victory–talk about transportation costs, etc.–so I’ll let Kenneth Feld (chair and CEO of Ringling’s parent company, Feld Entertainment) have (almost) the last word: “In the past decade there’s been more change in the world than in the 50 or 75 years prior to that.”
Thanks to the decades of activists that made this happen, and thanks in advance to the activists who will open even more cages in the future.
A nice story of humanity in what will be an awful week.
Villago Delenda Est
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Now to take care of Uday and Qusay, the “big game” hunter asswipes.
One freak show announces its end just as another one is about to start. They probably figured that they could not compete without actual elephants, considering all the metaphorical elephants the ringmaster of the Trump Circus will be driving to their deaths.
@Shantanu Saha: good metaphor is good; also while writing, I was actually thinking some of the concept of a “ringmaster” and all that that implies.
Great news that the circus is shutting down. Now, if we can only find suitable homes for all the animals — and not zoos.
OT — I respect John Lewis. He’s a legitimate American (and human) hero. But really, which is more important, that Trump is engaged in yet another TwitterWar or that he just promised universal health care coverage with low deductibles? It’s the big news on the front page of the WaPo site, but at the NY Times, it’s a tiny little item half-way down the page in small print. The big news at the Times is the Trump-Lewis cage match. WTF?
After the dust settles, it’s unlikely the Trump-Lewis kerfuffle will affect much of anyone, while Trump’s health care promises — so obviously at odds with the GOP’s replacement plans — to threaten to cause major turmoil. What happens when the Republicans’ “WeDon’tCare” health plan fails to do any of what Trump has promised? Will the GOP be forced to come up with a plan that actually delivers some value to Americans?
I can’t figure out the Times’ priorities.
@TriassicSands: Their priority is garbage.
I’m reading Truevine, by Beth Macy, which focuses on a different aspect of the circus community, the freak or sideshows. It’s a fascinating and disturbing of how circuses populated their sideshows with people who were actually kidnapped or stolen from their families. Truevine deals with Jim Crow laws, civil rights, human rights, and how a family’s love can break some terrible bonds. Twin albino African American brothers are the main subject of the book, but the story is deep and wide.
Circus life at the turn of the century, lots of ugliness there.
@TriassicSands: TBH, I am beyond tired at hearing how this thing>that thing.
There aren’t four people in a command center somewhere trying to determine firing coordinates for the most effective counterbattery. We can be pissed at multiple things AND work them into a narrative that sticks. The media may not want us to believe that, but it is still true.
@TriassicSands: Some zoos provide quite decent habitats, and there may not be terrific options for some of Ringling’s animals. That said, may they all experience significant improvements in their quality of life.
@TriassicSands: There are wildlife sanctuaries like this one.
@donnah: …and the reading list gets longer.
Also keep in mind that until horribly recently (like ten fricken years ago) many zoos had caged humans:
mai naem mobile
@TriassicSands: he would have figured out something else. Jennifer Holliday pulling out,more on SNL,Hollywood ‘reverse McCarthys’,Steve Harvey,the press getting kicked out of the WH. I get what you are saying but going after John Lewis shows what douchebags their side is and why they should be opposed
mai naem mobile
Maybe Shit Gibbon should be called Trumpling Family Circus Inc. or Trumpling & Sons Circus Enterprises
Lots of great wildlife sanctuaries like The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. There are others, but they tend to be full. Idiot Americans like to keep wild animals as pets, which is always terrible for the animals. Often even worse than the circus.
so sad about this .you can still have a circus with acrobats side shows and lots of things that do not involve animals
Ringling Bros. realized they just couldn’t compete with the Russian State Circus and its clowns setting up residency in D.C. from Friday.
Some people didn’t want to see a show without elephants.
I’ll miss the circus.
But then again, now we have Trump.
people abuse animals every day and they are never punished enough
@TriassicSands: I look forward to hearing how he plans to achieve universal health coverage, low deductibles, and without an individual mandate or some other mechanism to keep healthy people in the market.
He doesn’t actually plan to do any of that.
@Corner Stone: This, thank you.
>10 Prioritize whatever the MOTU want prioritized, daily.
>20 Bury whatever they don’t want seen, daily.
>30 GOTO 10
@Ben Cisco: You just made my little TRS-80 heart go bump-bump…bump-bump…
I plan on avoiding the media circus on Friday by watching Voltron: Legendary Defender s2 on Netflix. Marathon of s2, here i come! Sentient Robot Lions, much cooler than seeing caged ones in a circus. *grin*
Granted, i’ve seen real, happy Lions in the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, where they were comfy and snoozing that late summer day away in the sun. Lots of room and actual big kitty contentment. I’ve seen very few zoos that do their best for their creatures, and in that one i saw lots of happy critters.
Excellent news. I’m glad to see it reported here.
@Corner Stone: Glad to help.
While in Florida I came across an entire community of circus ‘freaks’ (closer to BCs home than ours on the East Coast). Most of them were millionaires & living very well. It was very strange to see.
BEst circus I ever saw was “The Pickle Family Circus” back in the late 80s. No animals, lots of clowns & acrobats. It was very much like cirque du soleil without the shrieking and much less dancing. More hippy-dippt, less artsy-fartsy. The kids had a great time & we loved it. Wonder what happened to them?
I guarantee you that he thinks he can do it through “deals.” Just tell health insurance companies to make their products better and cheaper or you’ll walk, and maybe yell at them on Twitter, so then just to keep you pleased they’ll do whatever you ask. This is how he thinks business works, and this is why he put together a cabinet full of businessmen.
From the Wiki:
They apparently influenced the development of Cirque du Soleil.
When I was a teen, the Ringling Circus would roll into town via train and set up at the Sports Arena. I was walking in the area and came upon some circus folk sitting in the grass near USC and the Sports arena, relaxing, practicing some tumbling and juggling. Someone nearby was tending to some of the animals (with care and kindness). It was kind of magical to see them just hanging out, even as I acknowledge that it is probably time for the circus (or this type of circus) to end.
Count me among the nostalgic. I have great memories of seeing Ringling Brothers as a kid, and taking my own kids. It’s too bad my grandkids won’t have that experience.
Why didn’t I think of google? Thanks.
We didn’t have money for Ringling Bros when I was a kid but saw The Shrine Circus on a school field trip. It was OK, I had a good time. Years later we took our kids to Shrine & it was sad, tattered & not really top notch. We decided to spring for Ringling, which we could afford. It was slick and high energy, a much better show – EXCEPT – it was relentless selling during the show, candy, flashlights, stuffed animals all sorts of gee-gaws hyped between acts. It took all the joy out of it for me but the kids had a good time I guess.
More like they will publicly announce cost reductions and service enhancements. Trump will crow victory. The actual underlying story will be that gubmint is going to subsidize their businesses at 150%. Pure profit for the exec class and taxpayers take it in the shorts.
Speaking as someone involved in social circus may I suggest that rather than post’ a link from PETA – because I find them an ethically-challenged organization when it comes to dealing with humans – for circuses, here are some links to The Social Circus Network and Caravan, the international social circus organization.
There’s more social change afoot with the “non-animal circus” movement than you might think.
Sorry, disagree. They could clean up their act vis-a-vis animals, but to see the end of an institution that has been around since 1871 is a tragedy. There goes another historic link to the past.
Two years ago in my town, a store shut down that had been operating since before Canadian Confederation. In its place? A satellite campus for the community college, complete with eyesore LED rollerboard sign. Gone? Beautiful 19th C. facade, lovely store building with patinaed wooden floors and an elevator with an actual operator.
This feels the same to me.
@aliasofwestgate: It was in the Columbus, Ohio, zoo, many years ago, that I saw a lion actually move! He got up, walked a few steps, and laid down again. That’ll probably never happen again.
Remember, there’s LOTS of animal-free circus to enjoy! Cirque de Soleil is its own thing, and if you live near a major city, there are probably local circus schools and production companies. (In Boston we’ve got Esh Circus Arts and Aircraft Aerial Arts and Simply Circus). You can friend them on facebook or get on their mailing list to learn about performances. I’ve seen a lot of circus shows over the years (I’m a hobbyist aerialist and acrobat) and I’ve never seen one with animals.
Anyway, watching even student shows can be really fun! And doing circus is even more fun, so if you’ve ever been even a little bit interested, please find a school and try it out!
Modern circus is about a lot more than non-animal-act involvement. There’s a whole branch of it that’s been sponsposered by Cirque du Soleil, among others, that promotes community organization and social change. Might I suggest that you try looking at The S oc ia l Circus Network and Caravan, the international soc ial circus organization, for an overview of the so cial circus movement.
@FlipYrWhig: on the news radio this morning I heard spokespecker Spicer saying the nice thing about president T—p is that he can make deals. This was in regards to the ACA replacement.
@Turbulence: Cirque du Soleil, and a lot of the schools you describe, are part of a whole movement called social circus. For some reason FYWP is not letting me link, but try googling the term and seeing what you come up with.
ETA: There’s a lot more to the movement than animal-free circus acts.
They’ll follow through with it anyway. Trump’s promises are just another distraction.
Not really a fan. And not in any way comparable to an actual Circus.
90 minute shows where 45 minutes are a clown pitter pattering back and forth and going, “geh geh geh geh geh” as he begs for laughter.
The 30 minutes of dynamic action are amazing and beautiful. But on the whole it is way, way overhyped.
@Pogonip: last year at the Oakland Zoo I heard a lion roaring. It was most impressive. We never saw any lions as they were hanging out underneath the viewing platform.
Cirque de Soleil Presents: Ow! My Balls!
Now give is $150 per ticket.
@Suzanne: Their plan is cheaper junk insurance sold across state lines.
I agree. You don’t need elephants or lions to have a circus. You could use domesticated animals like horses and still have animal acts. And there are always clowns and acrobats and magicians to fill the time.
I think this is terrible news.
Don’t forget those sweet, sweet tax credits and HSAs!
They were running on fumes for the last decade.
Popular tastes change, they had no idea how to retool to attract today’s audiences, their transport costs were crazy, and that is that.
@geg6: I don’t know. I think it’s like in theory you could have a GOP that’s morally respectable, but that’s just not reality.
The first couple we went to were very good, fabulous entertainers and the artys-fartsy stuff made nice bridges between acts. The last one was almost all dancing and screeching (I won’t call it singing, that would be giving it too much credit) there were almost no acts of any kind other than dancers. Not worth the $90 each ticket cost. I have not been willing to shell out for them since that experience.
Did see the Beatles set and Zumanity in Vegas, both were half the price & much more entertaining. Of the two Zumanity was the better circus but probably not for the kids
@geg6: Finally, the incentive to be rich that poor people need.
They’ve definitely been going down hill. I think some of it is that they’re spread too thin. They’ve massively increased their number of shows, and I think they are having trouble finding enough talented performers to fill the shows with great acts the whole time. Instead, they get more and more filler to stretch out the few great acts they do have. I’ve also heard from a former insider that some of their internal cost cutting measures aren’t helping.
@Corner Stone: Cirque de Soleil Presents: Ow! My Balls!
Now give is $150 per ticket.
You know that most aerialist training involves some degree of testicle crushing, right?
Stuff like Medieval Times does well, but they aren’t paying to haul livestock and staff all over the US.
I don’t know, CdS is overproduced and too glitzy, not to mention (as you have) very expensive. But back when they began, they were awesome and unique.
Yay! My Rep, Steve Cohen (TN-9th) announced today he will not attend the circus on Friday!
@Jerzy Russian: I have also heard a lion roar, in Cincinnati. What do they feed Ohio lions that makes them show occasional signs of life?
It was also in Cincinnati (not the same visit) that I heard a tiger make a sound sort of like “khuff.” Whether it was coughing, sneezing, or clearing its throat, it was not a sound you’d want to hear while walking through a forest.
I was assigned a safety review of Ringling that included rigging precautions taken unloading the rail cars, and the grand opening where folks and animals charge onto the stage. Thought it was cool, felt transported back 100 years; but expect the animals did not care for it much…
I…uhhh…thankfully did *not* know that aspect. Thanks.
The largest composition of the shows I have seen are females. And what seem to be very young females, at that. I guess I feel bad for the crushed testicles involved?
I’m really not sure where to go with this factoid.
I’ve got mixed feelings about Ciruq de Soleil, and I haven’t seen most of their shows (just Kurios really), but before you get too critical, bear in mind that performers have died there. A surprising number suffer permanent injury. Performing at the level that CdS requires is actually dangerous and when things go wrong, people die. Just something to think about next time you’re not so impressed with the people risking their lives for your entertainment.
Again though, if you think CdS is too expensive, there are lots of smaller companies performing in more intimate venues for cheaper. I saw Acrobatic Conundrum (based in Seattle) for $20 and they were magical. Seven Fingers of the Hand is pricier but still only like $40.
I have no idea how you think this is a critique of what I have commented on here. This is fucking baffling.
I never bet, but I would put good money down that A) Trump is not going to get universal coverage, B) whatever comes out of the Republican congress for Trump to sign will not be good, cheap, or effective coverage.
@Corner Stone: My bad. I thought that
Not really a fan. And not in any way comparable to an actual Circus….way, way overhyped.
was critical, but I suppose calling the premiere circus organization in the world not an actual circus is not really critical at all.
@F: It’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right…
At least, the lions think so!
Well, there goes the now-quaint childhood fantasy of running away and joining the circus.
Ringling Brothers was magic in an age when most people didn’t travel much, and TV was small and B&W. It was a chance to (paraphrasing Monty Python) see something completely different. It might be the only chance a lot of people had to see exotic animals in person in any setting other than a ghastly cage at a zoo: to see them active, and interacting, and intelligent.
I feel bad about the circus closing because it was also a community of humans who didn’t fit in, and didn’t want to fit in, anywhere else. Not sure what will happen to them now; hopefully, the older ones will be able to retire and the younger ones find another venue. Happily, there are a lot of alternate venues nowadays.
But times do change, and so do peoples’ tastes. I can’t remember the last time I went to a traditional circus.
@Seanly: I see you’re not a betting man. But still, I have something that’s slightly riskier to wager on than what you have stated here. I will wager that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West against your A and B.
PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals). But seriously that’s good news. As much as I dislike PETA they have a point when it comes to situations like these. A bit of good news before the horror that will befall America this Friday.
Bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com has a link to a cute video of animals at an Oregon zoo enjoying snow. If you’ve ever wondered what an elephant would do in the snow, wonder no more.
@Turbulence: Did you not see this part in the middle that you conveniently excised?
Your somewhat baffling counter was that I should understand people get injured and in some cases die…so take a pause before I say something about the show itself?
@Corner Stone: @geg6:
Also not a fan of Cirque de SoWhat. I know they’re wildly successful, and I admit the costumes and music are nice, but I’ve found them both oversexualized and boring. “Premiere circus organization in the world”? Puh-leeze. Premiere exhibitionists, maybe.
It’s definitely time to stop making wild animals perform for humans, but I’ve seen some really delightful dogs over the years doing stunts and such, not to mention the Lippizaner horses, and I don’t think they were being abused. People who abuse animals should be severely punished, not just for the animals’ sake, but because letting people abuse anything is bad — for people.
Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-9th), I like him, he’s a good guy. I also love how both sides keep throwing black people at him thinking that just because he’s white they’ll defeat him. We are not stupid, we vote for people, not race.
@CaseyL: Now the entire score of Barnum is running thru my head.
I have not seen lower price options out here on the tundra. I would love to though.
My complaints with CdS is not with the performers but with the producers. We have a perfectly fine ballet company here & the work they do is much better than what I saw at the last local CdS. Plus the music the music is a lot less annoying, even the avant stuff. The performers, even the clowns (and there have been some very good clowns at CdS) deserve whatever they are paid.
Yes, domesticated animals often enjoy performing. Hell, even my two lazy ass dogs do. As long as the animals are well cared for and not being overworked or abused, I don’t have a problem with a circus or an act that has them.
I’m not a fanatic about this stuff like others are, like PETA. I like meat and I’m not going to quit eating it. I try to eat ethically raised animals and to buy from local farms when I can. Same with seafood. And I really only get upset about the wild animals in circus or other acts. But horses and dogs love to show off. I’ve spent a lot of time around both and I know that they do.
ETA: I’m torn on the whole idea of zoos. I can see why so many don’t like them, but I also understand that many animal advocates value zoos (the well-run ones) for the work they do in education and preservation of species.
I think the circus died mainly because in the age of the Internet, it’s harder and harder to have novelties to shock and delight people. When all of the entertainment is available on my phone, an actual LION!!!! is less impressive.
The argument I’ve heard from a park ranger is that zoos end up being a perverse kind of help in a big picture way, because it helps to keep up enough interest in the wildlife in the general public to keep funds flowing into things like programs that preserve endangered species. But the animals in them live terribly.
PETA are Republicans at heart.
Take their executive VP Mary Beth Sweetland on why it’s okay for her to use animal-derived insulin products to treat her type I diabetes:
“I need my life to fight for the rights of animals.”
She’s worthy. You’re not.
Well, I find it hard to believe that zoos, in general, mistreat animals. I have students who interned at the Pittsburgh Zoo and they never mentioned any harsh, abusive or neglectful treatment. I also have an old friend who works at the National Aviary and she would not work there if the birds were mistreated in any way.