Close the Circus Down
From Animal Defenders of Westchester (ADOW)

We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Close the Circus Down

Letter as published on Westchester Rising
February 23, 2018

Dear Editor:

Concerning the demise of the “poor” Ringling Bros circus, Eric Schoen writes, “Remember that not only are the elephants out of jobs, but so is every performer, stage hand, usher, ticket taker all out of work” (Feb. 7). Did Schoen bemoan the employees and owners who lost jobs when Blockbuster Video closed? Or when typewriters stopped being produced? How about the thousands of factory jobs lost to automation, or the millions of jobs lost to the internet?

No, he did not. But for circus jobs, a viciously cruel part of history that’s finally ending, Schoen is now distressed over employment. Schoen further states, “I have questioned in this column before why we can’t figure out a way to humanely treat elephants to perform in the circus.”

The bigger question is: Why do we need to see such a magnificent animal stand on her head and do stupid, unnatural tricks – like the heartbreaking video of elephants running to help their friend who’s fallen off a circus pyramid of stools? Aren’t animals’ lives worth more than an hour of people eating popcorn and laughing at them? All circus animals – including bears, zebras, lions and tigers, have their own lives and friends and babies; why does Schoen wish to deny them this so that he can be entertained for one hour a year by a passing trail of boxcars, chains and enslavement?

Look beyond the popcorn: This is what Schoen wishes could be “more humane.” Thank Heavens we are evolving toward decency and a far more compassionate, responsible world.

Circuses and rodeos, already wonderfully banned in Greenburgh for several years, were just totally banned in New York City – and the entire New Jersey State Legislature voted them out. Unfortunately, the bill wasn’t signed by former Gov. Chris Christie, who also refused to sign a bill stopping sad, miserable, extreme confinement crates for pigs. In fact, we would have a bill right here, if not for a do-nothing, lying, negligent Board of Legislators who can only find the time to figure out who gets the biggest cut of money for Playland.

For almost three years, Margaret Cunzio (who calls herself an “animal advocate” to get votes) deliberately misled constituents on this issue. Indeed, we have asked County Executive George Latimer to ban these horrible animal acts as he did the gun shows, etc., having no faith in the BOL’s word any more.

It isn’t just circuses and rodeos: Rep. Jim Maisano proposed a bill to get puppy mills out of Westchester pet shops three years ago – and that’s dead on arrival. Worse, after we received a complaint about a sick puppy sold in a pet shop here, we repeatedly contacted Maisano and his assistant Anna Lisa Negro to request they just reach out to the complainant in a show of support – a mere phone call, an email – and both taxpayer-salaried county employees shamefully refused to even acknowledge the request, much less follow through.

If new BOL Chairman Ben Boykins means it when he claims he will be making the BOL “more progressive,” we request and expect, as taxpaying resident constituents of Westchester, that he will join the rest of the world by including animal advocacy issues in this, one of the richest counties in the U.S.

All animal businesses – be it circuses, rodeos, zoos, etc. – are run for profit like any other business. When overhead and cost are factors, the animals lose. Always. Just like the elderly and children, the animals are the most easily victimized. They are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on or use for entertainment.

Don’t express sorrow over your sad lost “entertainment,” Mr. Schoen; it’s a different world. Everyone is empowered now – women, minorities, LGBTQ, etc. The most voiceless of all, the animals, will not be left out.

Kiley Blackman
Founder, Animal Defenders of Westchester

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