I was both disturbed and delighted to read Erica
Freudenberger’s feature, "Circus of Pain" in your May 13 edition. I was
disturbed to read, yet again, of the torment and horrors enslaved elephants
undergo in traveling circuses. No matter how familiar one becomes with these
tails of torment, reading them always shakes and empathetic soul. I was
delighted, as well, to see a paper with the guts and journalistic work ethic to
blast Walker Brothers Circus. The Saugerties Times might have settled for a
fluffy little story on the circus coming to town. Instead, you did the real work
of journalism and revealed to readers the horrors and abuses of elephants and
other animals that are routine behind the scenes.
The well-worked piece featured sources from the circus, USDA,
Saugerties and PETA. Four sources in a story is sadly rare in current media.
Each was given a fair chance to contribute their expertise. The terse,
inadequate responses of Dale Longmire, of Walker Brothers, revealed that the
circus has no real answer to the problem of animal abuse and would simply prefer
that the public not look a what happens behind the Big Tent.
Fortunately, circuses that do not include animal acts are
becoming more numerous and popular – they’re the norm in Europe now. Humane
folks who still wish to enjoy the magic of the circus can find a list of these
shows at www.circuses.com.
Thank you for maintaining high journalistic standards and
revealing the ugly truth about circus animal suffering.
Jim Van Alstine
Campaigns Coordinator, Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society
Assistant Director, Wildlife Watch
p.s. I had the great pleasure to see elephants in their real
homes in Kenya. I was impressed by their intelligence and the obvious love and
caring in their family and herd bonds. They did not perform handstands, don
headdresses, or volunteer themselves as beasts of burden or entertainers for the
amusement of individuals of other species.