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Animals in Entertainment

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The Use of Animals for Human Entertainment Adults take children to the circus, zoo, rodeos, movies, and marine parks to see different kinds of animals quite frequently. When people are young, they grow accustomed to seeing animals in these different environments and do not think of the harm it is potentially causing the animals. People do not typically know the habitats and conditions in which the animals live; they just see charming animals. Animals are being removed from their natural habitats to be placed into captivity for human enjoyment. Numerous animals in entertainment are being treated in barbaric and harsh ways. The use of animals for human amusement certainly involves removing animals from their habitats and putting them into inhumane conditions. Numerous laws prohibit the use of animals in entertainment. Since animals are abused and exported for a few moments of human entertainment, laws must be implemented to protect animals from abuse and exportation for the selfish entertainment of people. The owners of animals in entertainment are often not willing to pay for the costs of large cages or are unable to have large cages for the animals. When these animals are enclosed in small and overcrowded spaces, it often leads to filthy living conditions and animals’ fighting for their territory. Fighting can cause physical injury and weakness to the animals. “A negative side-effect associated with the physical environment provided to dolphins in captivity has been found in the study of echolocation in captivity” (Choo). “Unlike the ocean that has softer sounds covering a wider bandwidth, dolphins in captivity often become deaf when they are exposed to the excessive concentration of sounds in the aquariums. The animals ability to function normally is also affected” (Choo). Animals in these conditions usually act negatively to visitors, viewers, and owners because they see it as harassment rather than pleasure and often show signs of depression and stereotypical behaviors especially in larger animals. “Since abuse has strong effects on circus animals, there is always a chance that animals will rebel. For example, an elephant handler from Florida working with a local circus tragically died after being kicked by an elephant. The death was an accident and the elephant did not intend to harm the handler” (Truppo). Often animals are physiologically confused when it comes to eating. Owners will hide their food in tall tree branches or put food on top of roofs so that the animals have to use their speed, grip, and creativity in order to eat. Animals are required to implement stunts during circus shows. They are coached to perform unnatural acts and tricks that do not replicate their natural behavior. A couple of examples of unnatural acts are elephants’ walking on their hind legs and tigers’ jumping through hoops of fire. These unnatural acts have a harmful effect on the animal’s safety. When most people see these stunts, they do not think about what the animals have experienced to perform these unnatural acts. These stunts have no educational value; the only action truly shown is that animals can be degraded and demoralized for human entertainment purposes. “When performing in the circus ring, an elephant responds to moderate pressure from the bullhook as well as verbal commands. The elephant has often been conditioned through violent training sessions to obey the trainer in the ring or face server punishment later” (“Prohibiting the Exploitation of Animals for Entertainment by Circuses”). Using animals in circuses is an invalid, unnecessary, and harsh practice that gives children the idea that it’s normal to use animals for amusement and return. There is no justification for keeping intelligent, social animals in cages for the public’s momentary entertainment and pleasure. Restraining animals in overcrowded conditions and robbing them of a natural habitat that is important to them is cruel and inhumane. Animals in the zoo never get the opportunity to live in their natural habitats no matter how much a zookeeper tries to make the habitat look realistic. The animals are held captive in small cages with no choices for their daily lives, which causes them to sleep and eat too much and too frequently. Captive circus animals have to travel frequently in confined boxcars, trailers, or trucks sometimes for several days at a time. The weather can be extremely hot or cold at times, and they can go without food, water, and veterinary care. “The majority of circus elephants are captured in the wild. These wild elephants walk as far as forty miles a day while in their natural habitat. Once captured, they are chained in one place for up to twenty-three hours a day” (“Los Angeles City Council considering ban on the use of elephants and the use of bull hooks in circuses that travel to L.A.”).
Animals are not born knowing the tricks people see them preform in the circus; they have to be trained as dog owners would do to get their dogs to sit or roll over. Circus trainers use much more extreme and vicious training methods to gain control over the animals than they need in order teach them to do the tricks properly during the circus act. When people go to see circus acts, they often do not realize that they are just as much at risk for their safety as the handlers. Just because the wild and exotic animals have been trained, does not mean they do not have times of impulsive behavior when they are made to do unnatural acts and are constantly on the road traveling in small cages. “September 20, 2002, a six-year-old boy required 55 stitches for two cuts on his scalp sustained after a tiger lunged at him during an animal performance at a local school in San Jose, California” (“Circuses”). Handlers, who train wild animals and have years of experience, have been attacked and suffered great pain because of these animals. Beyond the concern for human safety, people are able to voice their rights as to how they are being treated when animals have no voice. “The trend in circus entertainment has been shifting away from the use of animals, as evidenced by the hugely successful Cirque du Soleil” (Smith). Children are accustomed to going to the circus, petting zoos or rodeos, and riding ponies for enjoyment. They do not realize the torment the ponies experience before the children arrive for the pony rides. Often the ponies are deprived of water or food in order to prevent them from urinating or defecating while they are walking around the circle. During rodeos, calves are often shocked by electronic prods in order to force them to run out from the chutes at high speeds. The calves are experiencing such intense pain when being shocked by the probes that they exhibit irregular dramatic reactions. What viewers do not realize is that the intensity of stopping can cause the calves to break their necks, cause injuries, or even kill the calves. “People may risk their own safety and lives for the thrill of the moment, but this is unnatural for animals; they do not volunteer for any of this treatment” (“We don’t have to abuse animals for entertainment”). Although it is entertaining to see circus acts, go to the zoo, or rodeos, the majority of these animals have been taken from their natural habitats just to entertain and to provide an income for people. Wild and exotic animals experience intense and long training sessions to prepare for different shows. When these animals, such as tigers or lions, are taken from their natural habitats, they cannot run freely which causes them to rebel and go wild. Dolphins and whales are used to swimming close to one hundred miles a day in the freedom of the ocean. When they are taken from the ocean and placed in aquariums and marine parks, the freedom is taken from them. They then have to swim in circles in enclosures that would be the size of a bathtub. The animals are unable to participate in their natural behaviors; instead, they are forced to perform tricks for food in front of viewers. The small captivity causes the dolphins’ immune systems to weaken which lead to the animals’ dying at a much earlier age. “Some captive dolphins have reportedly taken their own lives by hitting their heads against the sides of pools or by refusing to come up for air” (“Aquariums and Marine Parks”). “Government of India enacted a comprehensive legislation called the Wild Life Protection Act of 1972 with the objective of effectively controlling poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and its derivatives”(The Wild Life Protection Act 1972). In 2003 the punishments and penalties for the offense were increased. If someone is found guilty of the offense, the minimum prison sentence is three years that could be prolonged to seven years. Along with the prison sentence, one would be fined ten thousand dollars. “Hunting of wild life animals is strictly prohibited under this act but can be permitted in certain cases such as when the animal become dangerous to human life or is so disabled or diseased as to be beyond recovery “(Saini). “Henry Bergh founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1866” (Ferguson). “The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty’s main goal is to prevent animal cruelty and inform ways of doing so throughout the United States” (Ramirez). The group is nationally known and works to save animals from abuse, to permit animals’ laws, and to publicize the word about their group to animal shelters across the country. “The ASPCA organization believes that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans, and must be protected under the law” (“About the ASPCA”). ASPCA also has a national endurance training and fundraising team. The team participates in marathons, half marathons, cycling, and other major endurance events to help provide life-saving services to animals all over the world. Animal fighting was brought to the world’s attention when Michael Vick, a NFL quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, was found guilty of illegal dogfighting. Vick would train and fight over fifty pit bull dogs and host dogfights that would cause harm to the dogs and often lead to their deaths. He would make more then twenty thousand dollars by gambling during dogfights. Vick and three associates, also known as “Bad Newz Kennels”, aided in letting the world know that although dogfighting is not allowed in every state, it is still taking place. “The judge sentenced Michael Vick to 23 months in prison. Vick also received three years’ supervised probation during which he cannot buy, sell, or own dogs. He was fined $5,000. Vick was also ordered to pay $928,073 as restitution for the 53 dogs seized from his property” ("Animal fighting case study: Michael Vick"). Although animals cannot talk, it does not mean that they do not have feelings. People should not inflect harm in any way upon animals. When people attend zoos, circuses, rodeos, and aquariums, they do not consider the lives of the entertainment animals. The animals have been removed from their natural habitats; they have all rights taken away and are required to obey the demands of humans. The animals are stressed and show signs of depression because they are being held in close quarters and being made to continuously perform tricks. Placing animals within the boundaries of zoos, circuses, rodeos, and aquariums is not as humane as some would like to believe it is.

Works Cited About the ASPCA." ASPCA. 12 November 2013. “Animal fighting case study: Michael Vick." Animal Legal Defense Fund. 13 Nov 2013. “Aquariums and Marine Parks." People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals. 12 November 2013.

Choo, Kay . "Animals in Captivity vs. Animals in the Wild." Education Reform. 10 November

"Circuses." Orange County People for Animals. 11 Nov 2013. Ferguson, Mark. “Henry Bergh” Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society. 10
November 2013.

"Los Angeles City Council considering ban on the use of elephants and the use of bull hooks in circuses that travel to L.A.” Last Chance for Animals. 10 Nov 2013.

"Prohibiting the Exploitation of Animals for Entertainment by Circuses." Animal Law. 10 Nov 2013.

Ramirez, Alyssa. “Memo: Agency Discourse Observation.” Animal Cruelty.16 September 2011.

Saini, Keshav. "The Wildlife Protection Act,1972." Environment About. 20 Feb 2011. Smith, RaeLeann. “Circuses Animals: Abused and Dangerous." Encyclopedia Britannica. 6 Nov 2007.

“The Wildlife Protection Act (1972).” Project Tiger. 11 November 2013.

"We do not have to abuse animals just for entertainment." Tranquilheart. 11 Nov

Truppo , Anthony. “Circus animal abuse a growing concern." Wilkes Beacon. 16 April 2010. /circus-animal-abuse-a-growing-concern.

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