Circuses down, pangolins up

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will go out of business this May. That’s not soon enough, but it’s still great news for all the animals involuntarily involved with the mis-named “greatest show on earth.”

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So “send out the clowns,” as one news story had it. Ring down the curtain on the cruel and inhumane spectacle that should have ended millennia ago in the Roman Colosseum.

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“Entertainment”? It is to laugh. What’s entertaining about deciding that animals are ours to tamper with and torture into performing for us? . . . about tearing baby elephants away from their mothers at a criminally early age, then sadistically “breaking” them in spirit so they’ll perform? . . . about compelling mature elephants to walk in circles holding each other’s tails, wear headdresses and balance on stools or balls?

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Coupled with traveling in boxcars often chained in place, enduring severe weather conditions and being made to march through city streets heralding the circus, that’s how it goes for a performing elephant. Does any of it sound like everyday life in the forest, jungle or savanna?

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GalenaGawa-Dodo16And that’s just the elephants. Don’t forget the big cats and other animals forced into wretched lives and unnatural behaviors, for our amusement.

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With the end of Ringling Bros. — no longer able to make enough money, literally, on the backs of innocent, abused animals — what will become of all those performing animals? Will they finally find sanctuary: a chance to live more naturally and at peace?

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Ringling was only the biggest and worst circus to ruthlessly exploit animals. There are still others out there, along with animal shows and rides. Activists have much more work to do.

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PMA-print_messageDid someone say “pangolins”? Oh, right – I did. My last post mentioned a worldwide ban on trade of endangered pangolins, and I included an image of a pangolin that looked scaly, huge and prehistoric. Not to worry: “scaly” is the only accurate word of those three. Covered with scales made of keratin (think human hair and finger nails), the largest pangolins are comparable in size to a medium-size dog – say, a hound.

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Among the eight pangolin species (four each in Asia and Africa), weights can range from about four to 70-some pounds. That’s it. These “scaly anteaters” are mainly nocturnal and insectivorous, with large curved claws and long sticky tongues that help them consume ants and termites. When threatened, pangolins roll up in a ball resembling an artichoke.

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PangolinRolledUpThat defensive position may deter a lion, but not a human hunter or poacher – the reasons behind the animals’ endangered status. Demand for pangolin meat and scales (used in medicine) caused the killing of more than one million wild pangolins in the last decade, making them the world’s most illegally trafficked mammal.
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Which is where the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) came in last fall, moving pangolins to its most-protected category. Now, widespread enforcement can make all the difference.
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https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/30/science/endangered-pangolins-trade-ban.html
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(Next post: APLNJ administers “the old one-two”! )

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— Pat Summers

Comments 3

  • I am so glad that the circus is finally closing down. I hope the animals will be well cared for in sanctuaries.

  • Good news on the circuses! And I’m glad there will be protection for the pangolins, though the last post was the first time I ever knew they existed. The pictures were great!

  • On why the CEC is breeding: “The Asian elephant is endangered, with less than 35,000 elephants in the range countries. There are fewer than 280 Asian elephants in the United States. It is extremely difficult to import Asian elephants into the US as they fall under the regulations of the CITES treaty (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna). Only about one-third of the elephants born at the CEC actually went on to perform with the circus. So far a total of 26 calves have been born at the Center and each one of them is considered a priceless contribution to the fight against extinction. Ringling Bros. has every intention of remaining a leader in the battle to keep Asian elephants thriving in the United States.” Hm.. http://www.ringlingelephantcenter.com/about-cec/faq/

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