Your Guide to the Reality of Animal Circus

"The academic panel concluded that there appears to be little evidence to demonstrate that the welfare of animals kept in travelling circuses is any better or worse than that of animals kept in other captive environments" - Executive Summary of the DEFRA Circus Working Group 2007

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Friday, 30 March 2012

The "ethical question"

The Journal of EthicsThe Journal of Ethics (Photo credit: Wikipedia)To put it mildly, the "ethical question" about animals in Circus scares the life out of me.  Let me put you in the picture, just in case you missed the story unfolding:

1990. Dr Marthe Kiley-Worthington, one of the worlds foremost animal behaviour experts, publishes a book titled “Animals in Circuses and Zoos: Chiron’s world?” .  “Chiron was a centaur, half man half horse, symbolising the joining together of humans and animals. Is this close relationship what is happening, or what could happen, between people and animals in circuses and zoos?”  The book contains the results of an 18-month scientific study of circus animals, in comparison with animals in zoos and in the wild, commissioned by the RSPCA and UFAW (Universities Federation for Animal Welfare).  The summary of the results is as follows:

“After 3000 hours of scientific observation of animals and many visits to circuses and zoos, including training, travel and performance, Dr Kiley-Worthington concludes that, while there are improvements that must be made, circuses do not by their nature cause suffering and distress in animals. She states, "On balance, I do not think that the animals best interests are necessarily served by money and activities diverted to try and ban circuses and zoos either locally or nationally. What is much more important is to continue to encourage the zoos and circuses to improve their animal welfare along the lines recommended."”

Friday, 23 March 2012

The House Divided & Sanity from the Sidelines

circuscircus (Photo credit: fsse8info)Rouster does not wish to waste our reader's precious time drawing more attention to a certain individual who has used the unfortunate predicament animal circuses in the UK currently face to bolster their own business. It saddens (although doesn't surprise) Rouster to see said individual, who freely admits to having made his name and fortune through animal circuses, now being championed by the likes of CAPS and the animal rights movement in general as they fight
their "cause".

Britain's Shame - A Reader's Reflection

MONTE CARLO, MONACO - JANUARY 18:  Princess St...MONTE CARLO, MONACO - JANUARY 18: Princess Stephanie of Monaco sits astride an elephant from the American circus troupe ahead of the 35th edition of the Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival on January 18, 2011 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. The International Circus Festival will be held between January 20 to January 30, 2011. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)There is little doubting that British animal circuses are in the darkest days of their 244 year old existence. A ban on wild animals in circus in the UK seems imminent. Despite eventually agreeing to government enforced regulations - something the Association of Circus Proprietors have been pushing for over the past 20 years or so - the UK coalition government has issued a statement that it intends to ban the use of wild animals in circuses by 2015. In a outrageous ministerial statement the government has admitted they cannot enforce a ban based on a system of logic and rationality, science, so they now wish to proceed anyway and base their argument on "ethics". We will, no doubt, come to this very dark moment in British politics again on this blog.

Invented in the UK as a new type of equestrian show and eventually merged with wild animal menageries street theatre the traditional circus became a global phenomenon that captured the imagination of virtually every country in the world.  It is part of Americana in the United States and has had a place in the hearts of Canadians and South Americans since the 19th century. In Japan huge six pole Big Tops cram in packed houses, as queues encircle the gigantic grounds that are booked for engagements that last months on end.  Today animal circus is revered and protected as an art-form in most of Western Europe. Bans have encroached on some countries, such as Greece, where a cynic might regard this drastic piece of legislation to be something of a diversionary tactic when one considers the problems that particular country faces. However, in France, Spain and Italy the circus still stands strong and it is on that little principality set between France and Italy, Monaco, where the anonymous writer of this following reflective and heartfelt piece finds their inspiration...

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Deconstructing the labels by Anna Webb

Anna Webb returns to the fore with a vengeance in this excellent analysis of the meaningless yet emotive language animal rights and pseudo-animal welfare groups use to reel in public support. The issue of language is an important once when it comes to the animal rights movement and Rouster is very intrigued by the reference to George Orwell in this essay. Orwell, of course, saw language as a means to influence and control people. In "1984", for example, "Newspeak", coupled with "Double Think", was created so that the masses found it hard to express themselves in anyway outside of the ruling government's philosophy. In "Animalscam" Kathleen Marquardt wrote about the way animal rights groups purposefully created phrases like "companion animal" instead of "pet", and used words like "murder" to describe any sort of killing of an non-human animal. However, this essay takes a look  the reality behind the very labels these groups use...
Orwell said in his essay “Politics and the English Language" that “political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness”.  It is “designed to ... give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”  This phenomenon, while being particularly prominent in strictly political speech, is also present in all sorts of partisan slogans.  It is a fact that there is a fine line, sometimes, between words meaning a great deal and them meaning absolutely nothing.  I am not talking about garden-variety sloppy writing as the result of sloppy thinking.  I am talking about a deliberate abuse of language to create meaningless but indisputable sound-bites.  If you want to know what’s in the tin, you need to de-construct the label.