Thursday, March 31


Along with the demise of foie gras, the elimination of elephants (and next, tigers) from circus entertainment continues its inexorable march, as the public slowly becomes more and more awake to what an idiotically cruel institution it is. I don't track every single piece expressing this in every paper, but when it's in the New York Times people tend to pay attention. So in this otherwise straightforward account of a circus show, we get a digression:

    Everyone gasped when six women lay down like human markers on a ruler and let an elephant named Asia navigate the small paces between them. Asia did this with great care. Elephants never lose their air of remote dignity even when they must sit on stools and raise their front legs like small dogs. I couldn't help wishing that the circus had used men in this human marker routine. What a novelty: men are rarely asked to expose themselves passively to danger. They are still the ones cracking whips as Bengal tigers (beautiful but a little fat) walk in circles, occasionally roar and run in and out of cages that look too small for them. Their trainer, Taba, did not seem worthy of them. But our consciousness has changed. We worry about how the animals are trained and treated.
Yes we do. Now it's time to go beyond worrying and do something about it.

UPDATE: Just ran across this related story: Elephants are the only land mammal other than primates that can undeniably copy sounds - an imitative skill based in their intensive social bonding.

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