Dear Future President,
My name is Paola, and I am a senior at Ballston Spa High School. When I was younger, my dad took my family and I to a Ringling Bros. performance. This was the very first circus I had gone to and I loved every minute of it. One of the main things I remember is when they brought out the elephants towards the end. They were so beautiful and talented. I remember seeing all of the kids my age tugging at their parents’ shirts asking to ride the elephants. However, today it does not bring me joy to see these animals being used for our entertainment. We use animals in circuses, zoos, and other recreational activities. Animals are used because many believe that this type of entertainment is exotic and beautiful, but at what price? Seeing animals up close is exciting, but our excitement is not worth their pain.
Animals are constantly being abused when it comes to using them for our entertainment purposes. We force many of these animals to live in certain conditions and learn tricks for the sole purpose of amusing ourselves. Frankly, I believe it is outrageous and out of hand. In certain recreational activities, like circuses, animals are confined to small spaces and forced to live in conditions that they were not made to live in. Many animals have been captured from their natural habitats or bred in captivity. According to PETA, the zoos that we force animals into are basically prisons. They keep animals from doing what comes natural to them. The lack of space provided and the size of their enclosures inhibits them from running, jumping, climbing, flying, and roaming in general.
The fact that these animals are not able to explore or live freely is disturbing. We are interfering with their lives and playing God as we basically grant ourselves the ability to control every move they make. According to PETA, the boredom, loneliness, and abuse that these animals may face from those in charge of them leads to “zoochosis”. Animals suffering from this condition are constantly rocking, swaying, or pacing. Zoochosis is so serious that it can cause some animals to hurt themselves by tearing out their fur or chewing on their limbs. This has spread so much that zoos began to give their animals antidepressants and antipsychotics to cure this behavior. The fact that our actions are driving these animals to the brink of insanity clearly shows that what we consider as recreational is actually just plain cruel.
It may be argued that zoos are educational, but according to PETA, those who go to zoos barely ever read the information about each animal and instead simply go for entertainment purposes. Many zoos do have signs in front of each cage but the font is so small that I believe it discourages people from truly reading and learning.
According to National Geographic News, wild elephants are living longer than elephants that are forced to live in zoos. For African elephants, those that live in the zoo have a median life span of 17 years, compared to the elephants that live in a National Park which have a median life span of 56 years. If you truly look at these numbers you can see the gravity and seriousness of this issue. Humans are affecting an elephant’s lifespan and decreasing it on average by about 40 years.
Elephants are also used in circuses along with tigers and other animals. These animals are forced to perform tricks in circuses such as jumping through hoops and balancing on pedestals. According to PETA, circus trainers abuse the animals with whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, and bullhooks. The pain these animals go through is definitely not worth a few hours of entertainment. I believe that a law should be passed that prohibits the use of animals in circuses and that prohibits their use for any kind of human entertainment. According to USA Today, the Ringling Bros. took a giant step and decided to retire their elephants and place them in specially built centers not too long ago. However, I do not believe this improvement is enough. Other animals such as lions and tigers are still used and other circuses also still use elephants because there is no law prohibiting them from doing so. Therefore, I ask that centers be made for animals that cannot return to the wild and a law to be passed that prohibits this kind of animal cruelty.
We will be able to survive without having animals in circuses and zoos and instead simply acknowledging their beauty in the wild, in their natural habitats, in their homes. However, if we don’t change things I’m afraid the animals we are supposed to share this world with will not be truly living.