Tag Archives: Ringling

Don’t put a lid on an animal’s right to be himself

I once had a snake, or rather, a snake had me.  And that snake taught me my first and most important lesson about wild animals and their right to live their own lives.

A garter snake has a right to fully be a garter snake

A garter snake has a right to fully be a garter snake

It happened that during the Summer that I was a rising Second Grader and having a wonderful time at Camp O’Cumberlands, Harlan County, Kentucky, I found a snake.  A juvenile green snake or garter snake – I’m really not sure what species it was – happened across my path behind Cobble Inn, the cabin occupied by the babies of the camp, the First and Second Graders.  Having no fear of snakes, I picked her up, and in animal-loving 6-year-old mindset, I proceeded to convert a quart jar into a terrarium.

I was going for something like this for the snake.

I was going for something like this for the snake.

In just a matter of minutes, I had collected enough moss and sticks and pine needles to create a soft, green, moist, inviting space, where even the fairies would happily rest their wings.  I placed the snake in the jar, into the lovely green softness of the moss, and rested the jar on its side on the ground, under a shrub behind the cobblestone cabin.

But since this was Girl Scout camp, there were other activities to do and schedules to follow, and I had to leave the snake in her new home under the bush.  When I returned that afternoon, and went to check on her, she was gone.

You see, I had not put a lid on the jar. While I was not certain, I was hopeful in a way that only a six-year-old animal lover could be, that she would so love her new moss-lined home, she would not leave.  But she had.  And I cried and cried.  She was gone.  The beautiful, small, green sleekness had gone on her way, and I was sad at the loss of no longer being close to her beauty and her wildness and the pure expression that she was of life.

And even though, having left, I didn’t really expect her to return, I left the jar in the same spot, in case she decided that the little glass moss house was pretty cool after all.  For days, I left the jar.  For days, I checked the jar.  I watched as my tears, which of course seemed to last forever, turned to understanding.

The thing that she taught me was to be moved by wildness, to be moved in watching it and not trying to control it.  To find a kind of full joy in knowing that the snake was never mine.  And should never be mine.  And while I know that some children might feel the sadness that I felt, and go out to find another snake, and to, this time, put the lid on, somehow that didn’t happen to me. I was spared what is likely a more common path of being insensitive to animals’ rights as a child, and having to unlearn some of that selfishness into adulthood.  I feel very fortunate for having been shown that lesson so young.

Make no mistake.  There is a longing and a pang of loss at not being close to the wildness that that six-year-old still feels and of which she frequently reminds me in a visceral way.  A reminder of the bitter sweetness that doing the right thing for wildness is most often to leave it alone, to let it be, even as that means to let it be away from us.

She reminds me to let the wild ones be wild.  And to not put a lid or a tank or a bar or chain on them.  If you love them, she reminds me, let them be themselves.  Let them be free.

Take the pledge that you will not support an industry that thinks that keeping wild marine mammals in concrete tanks is acceptable.  Just say no to the dolphin show.

And this weekend in Atlanta, come out to stand for the rights of circus animals to be wild and free.

Who’s bullhooking whom? Universoul? Ringling? Atlanta?

Circus Elephant performing stupid trick Ban the bullhook

Disgusting performance of domination, photo from In Defense of Animals

A year ago, a bullhook could not be used in Atlanta.  A year ago, it was illegal in Atlanta to hit or jab an elephant with a bullhook.

I just want to say it again:  a year ago, a bullhook could not be used in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, to “guide” elephants to stand on their heads, to step on a cutely painted stool, or even to support The Lovely Viola.

Now, due to a joint effort of the usual suspects – Ringling Brothers Circus, Feld Entertainment, Universoul Circus, Mayor Kasim Reed and the Public Safety City Council Committee, et al., circuses are on the verge of, once again, being able to bullhook elephants in Atlanta to their very little hearts’ delight.

Unless you do something about it.  Like, now.

Here’s the City Council’s email address, if you’ve heard enough and want to start pounding your keyboard to tell the Atlanta City Council and Mayor Reed that we want our city to stand in a public policy that is based in more than a blood-soaked revenue stream:  atlantacouncil@atlantaga.gov.

But, lest you want more info, I’ll keep pounding mine.  So to speak.

The Public Safety Committee of the Atlanta City Council met today to consider an ordinance in which the bullhook ban will be removed.  The use of a bullhook in Atlanta has been, since June 1, 2011, outlawed, when Fulton County passed the ban. Because of the contract between the City of Atlanta and Fulton County in which the County provided the City’s animal welfare services, the City was bound by the Fulton County ordinance.

Bullhook hurts elephants

Hello. I am a bullhook. Ringling likes to call me a "guide". But you and I both know that I have one purpose, and that is to inflict pain. Oh, no, wait. Two purposes. One, to inflict pain and, two, to put in fear of imminent pain. But they like to call it "guiding".

As was Universoul Circus when they performed this past February.  That little factoid couldn’t seem to quell the enthusiasm with which Mr. Benjamin Johnson, a representative of Universoul, proclaimed that Universoul used the bullhook during its February 2012 performance, despite that little detail of its apparently being illegal.

While Ringling had the savvy, and the deep pockets with which to hire legal counsel from Troutman Sanders to put a temporary restraining order on implementation of the lawfully-executed ordinance so that Ringling could bullhook its elephants as much as it felt it needed to, Universoul must not have caught that little legal technicality.  Or perhaps they felt they had cover under the TRO.

But this isn’t meant to focus on Universoul.  I only mean to point out that the deep pockets of Ringling are here to preserve its right to bullhook.  No surprise there.  Most of the proponents of the bullhook, no, wait, ALL of the proponents of the bullhook who spoke at the microphone were from out of town.  The Atlanta residents who spoke were all, to a person, opposed.  The Public Works Committee doesn’t seem to have noticed that.  Well, except for C.T. Martin and Joyce Sheperd, who voted against the current draft of the ordinance.

Time out to let you watch some video by PETA of how the bullhook is wielded against elephants by Ringling.

So, I’ve finished pounding mine, and would like very much for you to Tweet (using the hashtag #bullhook would be good), share on Facebook, or write an email to the Atlanta City Council to urge the City to add the words “use a bullhook” to proposed City Ordinance Section 18-123(a).  A good place might be after the words “cruelly treat” and before “maim”.  Or maybe before “bruise.”  Putting a specific reference to bullhooking is just clearer that way.  Even though we know that the elephants are, in fact, bruised by use of the bullhook.  Otherwise, why use a bullhook.  The sole intention of a bullhook is to inflict pain.

No, that’s wrong.  There are two intentions.

The first intention is to inflict pain.  The second is to instill a fear of imminent pain.  That’s how this “guiding” works.  The bruising is secondary to the pain and the fear of pain.

Go on. Write your email.  If you’re feeling chatty, call Mayor Reed at (404) 330-6100.  Tell him to put Atlanta on the map for a policy based in a clear statement of ethics.  While bruising is good to prohibit, saying the City is against bruising, but won’t specifically call out the bullhook, is hypocrisy at its finest.

You can’t bullhook a hooker.  Or something like that.

For more information: Atlanta’s consideration of bullhooks to control elephants draws fire from PETA, which says they’re inhumane

and Atlanta committee approves ordinance permitting bullhooks

Ringling Beats Animals

That was a video from nearly a year ago, and on the work to protect elephants goes despite a bullhook ban being made law in Fulton County, Georgia.

On February 15 through 20, 2012, come show Ringling and its team of lawyers that the bullhook ban in Fulton County, Georgia isn’t a mere annoyance; it’s the law.