Happy Animals, Happy Kids

Posted by on July 15, 2010 | Permalink

© iStockPhoto.com / yuriz

Earlier this week I saw some video footage which broke my heart. Having volunteered for animals for years now, I’m becoming hardened to the things I see, but this was upsetting in so many ways.

It was a YouTube video which someone had recorded at a British circus during the 2010 season. All the footage was from the ring, what the circus were proud for you to see. It was distressing. I won’t link to it here, but there are plenty of videos on YouTube that show similar shocking scenes.

The video depicted animals being degraded and humiliated to the awkward laughs of a half-empty big top. I saw horses forced to walk on their hind legs and run so fast around the tight circle of the ring that I worried they would injure their ankles. I saw miniature ponies being forced to run through slaloms and over bridges obviously too steep for their legs.

It brought back memories of being an animal-loving child and going to see the circus, believing in my childhood naivety that the animals loved performing for me. I never imagined that there were bullhooks, whips or electric prods.

And I considered the little I had learnt from zoos and aquariums too. Could I really have learnt this no other way? All I remember from visiting the zoo is seeing a frightened mummy chimpanzee clutching her young because the flash from someone’s camera scared her. There are no educational benefits to zoos.

Thankfully, children’s entertainment has come so far that there is no need to exploit our animal friends. Please, when you take your children, cousins, nephews, nieces or grandkids out this summer, think of an animal-friendly circus or attraction. There are plenty to choose from.