Disclaimer: Play this song while you read the post. It adds to the dramatics.
Ahh…after 146 years the Ringling reign is finally over. It’s a bittersweet feeling for most. Of course PETA and other animals rights groups are rejoicing. I see a lot of people filled with empathy for this family business but, hold on. This circus has had a very decorated past from horrible fires to injuries of performers to animal abuse. Before you start feeling bad for them and reminisce on the good times, let’s take a look at their karma in the making:
Aside from animal abuse, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey should be known for their hellish fires. Now, of course the fires weren’t purposeful but they didn’t exactly practice the art of fire prevention. The most well-known incident is the Hartford Circus Fire.
“…the tent was water-proofed with paraffin wax and gasoline, the fire spread rapidly.” I’m no fire-fighter. Neither am I an expert on how fires are started. I don’t even know about circus tents and why they felt the need to lace them with gasoline but in no way does that sound safe. Especially in the summertime but I guess it had to happen for Connecticut to pass strict laws on circuses. You live and you learn.
Anyway, Hartford, Connecticut July 6th, 1944. The fire consumed 167 lives and the crowd consisted of mostly women and children! One of the survivors, now 86, was saddened to hear that the circus will be closing. Really??? Ok I guess. The cause of the fire is still undetermined though it is believed to be started by a match from a “careless smoker”. Sadly, the circus tent was gone in a matter of 10 minutes. Ringling Brothers paid about $5 million to the victims and their families. Which is roughly $30,000 per victim.
Two years prior to the Hartford Circus Fire was the Cleveland Circus Fire. It’s probably lesser known because animals were the victims *insert straight-face here*. Over 100 lions, tigers, camels, zebras, and other animals died. There isn’t much info about the Cleveland Circus Fire because again, no humans were harmed. As for the animals, who cares? (sarcasm)
Wei Cao (a performer) went missing from Atlanta in 2015. The police still have an open investigation even though Feld Entertainment claims that she was found the next day…nope. Nothing mysterious there.
Circus performers like Dessi Espana fall to their death (rest in peace) while the show goes on. Others, like the high wire acrobats who are badly injured, must live with the damages. The show just moves on, unfazed by their “little” lawsuits.
I get it. It’s a dangerous job and it will be risky. Noted. But can the show really not be stopped by any means necessary? Dessi’s death wasn’t enough to stop the show but isn’t it considered like a tragedy? Most people will never see someone die and for many it’s a traumatic experience. But look at these clowns and pretty colors.
Sadly, this section is the easiest one to talk about. For decades there have been problems with the circuses treatment of animals from abuse to the conditions of their health, retaliation, and living arrangements. Many lawsuits were filed against Feld entertainment by animal rights groups and in few, the groups prevailed. One of the more well-known moments in Ringling lawsuits was when the Humane Society of the United States had to pay a settlement of $15.75 million. Yikes!
Some states have made laws against using elephants in performances which is probably why the Ringling Brothers decided to stop using them last year. I can literally go on and on about the treatment of their animals but maybe it’s best for you to just see it. Oh and if you support the Ringling Brothers but find yourself unable to sit through these videos, you are part of the problem.
I’ve been seeing a lot of idiotic comments with questions like, “So do you think the animals are better off in the wild than in captivity?”, and, “What will all of the circus performers do? They lost their jobs how can we be happy about that?” Lastly, “Now where will we take our children?”
These are easy so I’ll start from the top. Ahem.
1. Yes we lovely and dynamic humans are wrecking the earth and killing ecosystems at unimaginable speeds but the circle of life is still pretty prominent. Animals are going to kill other animals, babies or not. Don’t let Disney movies fill you with remorse for prey. Tf? That’s how food chains work. What’s left to be misunderstood? You also need to notice that animals don’t always react to death the way that we (humans) do.
2. Were you guys in an uproar when the BMX performer became so badly injured and was out of a job? What about the eight high rope women who had to trade in their dreams for making it big with dreams of just being able to walk again? How about the thousands of people losing their jobs daily due to failing companies? Writers & actors for tv shows that are cancelled? Are you worried about them finding jobs as well? Things don’t last forever.
3. If many of you were so worried about taking your kids to the circus, they wouldn’t be closing. You don’t want your kids on the streets? Create programs to keep our children elsewhere. Take your child to the theater; cheap tickets are like $10. Have a family picnic at the park. There are literally a million other things you could be doing with your child besides taking them to the circus or them being on the streets. Feel free to choose one.
Yes, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey was probably a great moment in your childhood but that doesn’t make them any less evil. Some things you just have to accept.