It’s time to stop allowing the shoddy treatment of circus animals
As a community member, I am grateful that some caring individuals are pushing for a ban on the use of circus animals at the Town Toyota Center.
As a community, how we allow people to treat animals is important. A growing number of communities, states and countries are banning or restricting the use of these animals because they are often mistreated. When we allow these acts to take place in our communities without any oversight, we become complicit in their cruelty to animals.
These animal acts are not necessary for a successful circus. It’s important to note that circus organizations like Ringling Brothers no longer have animal acts in their shows. Our own Wenatchee Youth Circus doesn’t use them.
The Public Facilities District board that operates the Town Toyota Center has imposed a short-term moratorium on the use of circus animals at the facility and is considering a ban. Plans are in place to take up the issue with the city councils of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee.
Last week, I sat down with Kris Cameron and Cindy Volyn to learn more about their drive to keep circus animals from being exploited in circuses. Their friend Anna Gullickson has also been deeply involved in the effort.
Jordan World Circus rents out the Town Toyota Center each year to put on shows and they contract with other organizations to bring in elephants, camels and the like to offer rides and are also used to perform tricks. The animals are typically housed in tight quarters in cages on concrete because the Town Toyota Center is not equipped to handle these animals.
Cameron, a retired teacher in the valley, first got interested in this issue when she was volunteering at the concession stand when the circus was in town. She has a strong moral sense about how animals are treated and when she walked through the area where the animals were kept, she was appalled.
“When I went up to look in the ring, I saw the saddest elephants I’ve ever seen in my life shuffling in circles…. I was so upset,” said Cameron. When the animals aren’t performing, they’re kept in tight quarters while being transported.
Cameron started researching the issue to better understand the dynamics. She and Volyn have been researching problems that other communities have had with circus animals and animal welfare violations that plague the industry. What they found was that there is no oversight by the City of Wenatchee when the animals are brought to town and that the circus event at the TTC is likely violating existing city ordinances. They also learned that other communities have had serious injuries to community members when an animal bolted and couldn’t be controlled.
This past year, Cameron started working with the PFD board to educate them about the issue and asked them to prevent circus animals from being used at these events. The PFD board, by a 4-1 vote, decided on a six-month moratorium to further study the issue and work out contract language that prevents the misuse of animals.
Cameron, Volyn and a small group of friends worked with the advocacy group Animal Legal Defense Fund to set up an online petition to show community support for the effort to ban the use of animals in these shows. You can learn more and sign the petition at: sites.google.com/view/ncwforanimals.
I believe it is morally deforming when we allow creatures to be misused and mistreated for the “entertainment” of human beings. We’re better than that. I think how we allow others to be treated reflects our own sense of humanity and caring.
In 2014, a group of kids from a school used that reasoning to convince the city officials in Ketchum, Idaho to ban exotic circus animals being allowed. By taking action, we will be joining other enlightened communities in protecting animals.
Let’s encourage the Public Facilities District Board and the city councils of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee to support this important effort to protect animal welfare in our communities.