Sanders III: If ending the circus shows was great for the animals—what about the workers?

William Sanders III, IC Columnist

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When the Ringling Brothers closed, hundreds of circus workers were the most affected. They lost their jobs.

The managers were distraught thinking about what they were going to put the trained animals through. These animals have provided wonderful entertainment and funfair to their patrons for decades.

But I guess the critics, especially the Humane Society, can finally declare victory to their 100-year campaign to end the circus show. I’m sure that for these people, the fact that many people and families depended on income from circus employment didn’t mean much.

While they’re entitled to think what they want to think, I’m equally entitled to say that these critics and societies are doing more harm than good all in the name of animal rights protection.

Believe me, I like animals. I’m totally against animal abuse, but what could possibly be abusive with how these animals are used in these circus shows? Let’s not forget that these animals have been nurtured in a family-friendly environment and are accustomed to a certain standard of welfare.

Another thing that ended with the closure of Ringling Brothers was a long, cherished history of urban entertainment. The Ringling Brothers have entertained a countless number of guests at their shows. Founded in 1871, they continued to gather more success and delivered explosive entertainment.

The shows have never come short in leaving the audience in complete awe and shock. It’s true that sometimes the show got so intense that the audience couldn’t help but be concerned for the artists’ safety. But that was totally part of the show. It was all part of what made people travel tens and hundreds of miles just to be among a Ringling Brothers audience. After all, how many of these fears actually materialize?

Both children and adults alike found more entertainment in the face of a bright flashing screen. But, thanks to the critics, ticket sales continued to plummet, which left the company with little funding and caused it to, eventually, fold up. The outcome? No more flashy circus entertainment for people.

It’s sad that, when dealing with these type of issues, all we think about is the welfare of animals. We quickly assume that these animals are mistreated. After all, the Ringling Brothers were found guilty of animal cruelty by compelling animals to perform inappropriate stunts that jeopardize their welfare in 2011.

But I often ask myself these questions. When it comes to the welfare of the workers and their families who end up losing jobs and livelihoods because of these claims, who is looking out for them? Or is it that their lives are just not as important as that of these animals? It’s just fair and nice if someone is actually looking out for these people too.

William Sanders III is a second-year majoring in Communication.

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Sanders III: If ending the circus shows was great for the animals—what about the workers?