Why My Children Will Never Attend a Circus | Still Playing School

Why My Children Will Never Attend a Circus

By Devany LeDrew | Labels:

My children will never attend a circus.  As the show rolls into town, I thought it might be a good time to summarize my thoughts of this type of "entertainment" since I'm pretty vocal about it.  Some agree with me, some think I'm over-reacting, and some (the ones I hope to reach most through this post) just haven't thought about the implications.

I'm going to throw Ringling Brothers a bone here and say that for the purpose of this post, we will assume that the abuse recorded in 2009 is no longer happening during animal training or performances.  This is a controversial topic, but I'd like to illustrate how it is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems with circuses.  Bullhooks and chains used on elephants are just one stomach turning aspect of this business that people continue taking their children to and supporting with their money.  Don't worry, your kids probably won't see any evidence of abuse at the show anyway, since the employees cover any wounds from the bullhooks with wonder dust.  Training animals using fear and the withholding of food and water aside, let's examine the other ways that a circus is abusive to animals.

Can you imagine how you would feel if you were constantly finding yourself in unfamiliar places being made to perform tasks that made you uncomfortable in order to be able to eat?

The animals are spending countless hours in confined spaces as they travel from city to city for shows.  Highlights from a 2009 case against Ringing Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus show that the circus records prove the animals, specifically elephants, are sometimes spending 100 CONSECUTIVE hours in their railroad cars.  During this time, the animals are living in their own waste in small, loud compartments where the temperatures fluctuate to unnatural conditions.

Circuses boast the breeding success of endangered species, but the conditions provide stressed and difficult relationships between these animals, including those between mothers and babies.  Unlike zoos (which we do support), any animals born into the circus life will never been released into the wild.  Their babies will be doomed to spend shortened lives performing for profit just like their parents before them.

The aspects of the performance tasks are also so unnatural.  Animals are being forced to do "tricks" that go against their instincts and body structures which is what makes the performances so "impressive."  I would much rather watch animals be animals, wouldn't you?

Vet care is not provided accurately.  Sick and injured animals are still forced to perform.  Animals die and the losses are brushed under the carpet.

It truly breaks my heart that so many families will celebrate as the train is unloaded today and the shows start this week.  As my children get older, I will explain to them why we don't pay to watch animals perform for our entertainment.  We have a choice and a voice.  The animals don't.


  1. Thank you for this informative post. During our protest of Ringling Bros. Circus in Columbus, Ohio we realized so many people do NOT know what's going on and when they are informed they are appalled. If we could reach more teachers and families and telle them what's going on behind those doors, that would be awesome. We realized that kids do want to know!

  2. I agree with your post. A big problem here, standing between action and people ignoring it, are groups like PETA. Groups who are over sensationalist or have track records of being borderline terrorist ruin the public view of ALL animal rights groups. I wish we could change the public view of animal rights groups, and therefore bring a larger audience and action force to the needs of animals.

  3. I. Love. This. Post. I thought about writing a similar one, but wasn't prepared for any possible controversy. Before my daughter was born I was all about animal rights. And even now my conscience won't let me bring her to someplace like a circus. Bravo to you for speaking out on this, and for teaching your children that animals were not put her purely for our entertainment.

  4. Thanks for writing this post! I have one in my drafts just like this that I haven't finished yet, I guess I'm just waiting for the right time. RB comes to our town every July and there are so many people that don;t know what goes on. In the past we have physically boycotted, with signs and the whole 9 yards. I haven't done it the past few years because I've had babies the past two years but I will never attend a circus and my kids will know what goes on behind the scenes when they get old enough.