Saturday, February 22, 2014

The circus returns to Brooklyn. Why no elephant walk? Maybe it's fear of protests.

So, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® is back, bringing circus trailers to Brooklyn for 23 shows between Feb. 20 and March 2. As I wrote, there were trailers all over the neighborhood, parked illegally in bus zones and blocking traffic, awaiting load-in to the arena.

What we didn't see, either last year or this week, was an elephant walk, despite developer Bruce Ratner's 2010 claim that “I can’t wait to see circus elephants marching down Flatbush Avenue and into the Barclays Center.”

Maybe that's because the elephant walk would have amplified the protests, last year and this year. The Dodo reported 2/20/14:
The circus, which brings elephants, tigers, kangaroos and other animals in tow, has provoked the ire of animal advocates, who plan to host large protests during each show outside the arena in downtown Brooklyn.
A trove of organizations will be in attendance, including NYCLASS, In Defense of Animals, PETA, Animal Defenders International and others.
An activist's take

As reported last year by Animal New York:
Katie Arth, a campaigner with PETA, believes Ringling Brothers may be canceling the walk to avoid the public seeing the state of the animals. “We know Ringling Brothers has cancelled walks in other cities, most likely because the don’t want people to see the lameness of some of the elephants that are forced to perform,” she said, pointing to an incident in which Department of Health monitors spotted unhealthy-looking elephants walking to the circus in DC.
Even so, in March 2013, the circus got a big article in the Times that explained elephants were driven to the arena in trucks and rode down to the event level in the giant elevators.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this blog post. I agree with Katie Arth. Elephant walks have been a mainstay of the circus's arrival in cities for decades. But Ringling has been canceling elephant walks in city after city for the past year. I don't believe they fear protests; all protests are peaceful and never disrupt elephant walks or performances. Ringling's elephants are riddled with serious problems like arthritis and foot diseases - no wonder after years of captivity and performing unnatural, joint-destroying tricks, spending half their lives in fetid boxcars being shuffled from town to town, and standing chained on concrete or in asphalt parking lots at circus venues. Ringling's elephants are aging as well, since the days when Ringling could pay to wipe out entire herds in the wild so they could capture and import the calves ended with the passage of the Endangered Species Act. Despite their efforts to set up an elephant factory (aka the misnomer "Center for Elephant Conservation" in Florida to make more baby elephant slaves for their billion-dollar business), they can't replace their crippled elephants fast enough. They don't want the public or advocates to see how bad off they are, or to document their conditions. Why hasn't the USDA shut down this abusive operation? The $270,000 settlement and fine didn't even begin to go far enough.

    This is an archive photo of a Ringling elephant walk in 1955 (photo credit: Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection. Used with permission according to copyright requirements):
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=483675395044892&set=pb.123785434367225.-2207520000.1393137409.&type=3&theater

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  2. Both Nicole and young Sara suffer from lameness and have been spotted numerous time limping during the elephant walks in various cities for several years. You can bet they are trying to hide this.

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