Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Elephants at the Circus

As an animal rights advocate, I know there is a lot of opposition to my point of view, and I should probably save my energy for those willing to wage real intellectual arguments. I also don't want to be another Minnesota blogger taking the easy pleasure of shredding the horror show that is a Katherine Kersten column. But here we are.

Katherine Kersten tells us that members of the Minneapolis City Council who are concerned about the treatment of elephants in circuses are uninformed. Their objections are pointless. How does she know this?

She talked to one person who has worked with elephants, that's how! And he says the elephants aren't abused.

She doesn't address any of the evidence that elephants do face abuse in circuses. And she doesn't address those concerned that wild animals shouldn't be exploited for human entertainment at all (whether or not there is "abuse," however you want to define that). The "proof" that the council is "clueless" is that the kids want to ride the elephants.

No word on whether or not the elephants want the kids riding them.

She ends by telling us it's good that kids get to ride the elephants at the circus. Maybe someday, those kids will grow up to love elephants as much as the person she spoke to loves elephants.

I see things differently. I, too, hope kids grow up to love elephants. I hope, though, they love them enough to want them free in their natural habitat, not held captive to be used for our amusement.

For more, see PETA's site devoted to circus animals.

Let me add a note on my attitude about animals used for human entertainment. I see zoos as a necessary reality: if humans are going to encroach on animal habitats all over the world, there need to be safe, humane places to protect animals. I hope the zoos make efforts to make the animals' home a sanctuary similar to their own habitat. Traveling around with animals, training them to perform tricks for human amusement, is quite another matter. I don't quite see the necessity in that.

See also:

PV's Sports Toothache "animal rights" posts

"Pretty things didn't work."

Christian hypocricy

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