The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus just announced plans to phase out elephant acts from its performances by 2018. The Associated Press broke the news.
Don’t miss the bottom paragraph. The people in charge of the largest group of elephants in North America say the 43 will be “retired” near Orlando’s tourist attractions, so the elephants, in addition to being available for elephant researchers, are slated ultimately for public display. Swapping the circus for a zoo is no bargain.
I hope the elephants are indeed let out of these degrading shows. I have been moved to protest — alone, when I could find no companions — by the sight of elephants paraded through downtown Baltimore, right past the law school. And while I’m sure it’ll come as a relief to the elephants to be spared the street parades, the amplifiers and the acrobatics under the stage lights, that relief does not address the fundamental fairness issue. On whose terms will the elephants live — ours or theirs? Other questions are all details springing from the root injustice, which involves a group of officious primates maintaining supremacy over their lives, bodies, histories, and all of their daily affairs.
Last month, I read the news that Ringling Bros. introduced its “Xtreme Camel Act” with Mongolian camel stunt riders. That tells us, loud and clear, how little this business comprehends or cares about the harm it does.