Friday, 13 August 2010

Animal entertainment

I was in Kendal yesterday and saw adverts for a circus. I even passed the big top which is not difficult as it is next to the main road that leads into Kendal. I heard that this circus has been criticised for using animals as part of the acts and the advert that I saw had the ringmaster on the back of a horse. Is it wrong to use animals in performances? The answer, like most answers in the social sciences, is not a clear yes or no. It is wrong to beat animals, treat them badly and get them to do things that they don't want to do for the sake of human amusement. If animals are treated well then their performance may be entertaining and informative.

If you are an animal rights activist and don't want any animals in any circus where do you draw the line. Is it wrong to ride a horse in a performance? If so would it be wrong to ride horses in films? Some may not like these questions because they think it ridiculously easy to say that horse riding is fine, horse racing is fine, riding a horse for a big movie is fine but a tent in Kendal is a totally different matter.

I think you can abuse animals at Hollywood or in your own home. Conversely animals may be treated well at any venue. If you condemn the concept of animals in a circus then you really have to come up with a code for using any animal for any purpose, including pet ownership.

Change the world


  1. My take is whether the animals 5 freedoms are respected.

    It is hard to provide a natural or semi natural envrionment for animals if contantly on the move.

    A circus ring with loud noise and lighting is never going to be a natural environment for an animal, especially for wild animals.

    The European Zoo Associations refuse to put "surplus" animals in circus' due to the lack of approriate huspandy and welfare in circus'

    Having animals perform unnatural tricks for human amusement provides a negative educational message, especially to children.

  2. Thanks for the links Anonymous. I don't have chance to look at them at the moment but my thoughts are that how does this relate to working animals doing their work or a pet dog standing on its back legs for a reward.

  3. One of my dogs, a Westie, stands on his back feet sometimes. When I first saw a picture of a Westie doing this I thought it cruel, but he just does it with no encouragement, sometimes to see better, for example, when he wants to look out of the window. So by that, I don't think it is cruel, I had told myself I wouldn't "make" him do it, but he does it by choice. If it is the animal's choice they are not being exploited.