Leon is home to many animal lovers. And four Leon sophomores recently turned that love into a protest against animal cruelty.
McClain Houston, Megan Milla, Willow Parsons and Lucas Dwinell joined forces to take a stand against the Barnum & Bailey Ringling Circus, which was held at the Leon County Civic Center in early January.
The sophomores dressed up in costumes, including fake chains, and stood outside the civic center during the circus. Their faces marked with fake cuts, they held up signs expressing their concerns.
The four sophomores had one goal: “To inform people about what goes on [at the circus],” McClain said.
This is their second year protesting, and they plan to keep the tradition going.
Each student did extensive research on how animals are treated at the circus — and were horrified. For example, the students learned that bullhooks — metal rods with a hook on the end — are used to train the elephants. The animals are often hit in the ears and legs with the bullhooks.
“Sink that hook into ’em,” elephant trainer Tim Frisco can be heard saying on circuses.com, a Web site about circus animal treatment. “When you hear that screaming, then you know you got their attention.”
Since 1990, four baby circus elephants have died. Most were euthanized after catching a disease or becoming completely exhausted from training.
The animals at the circus are constantly chained, instead of walking freely. Elephants are also chained while giving birth, and their babies are immediately taken away.
Research indicates that circus animals generally live only up to half of their estimated life span due to malnutrition.
“I think it is unfair to the animals,” Dwinell said.
He and the other students consider themselves peaceful but wanted to inform the public.
“People don’t want to see these animals hurt,” McClain said. “They love them.”
Because they could not all protest every night, they took turns with each showing.
Saving Animals Via Education (SAVE) also protested. A reporter from the Tallahassee Democrat evencame one night and interviewed the students. Talk about getting the word out.
For more information about animal abuse, go to Web sites such as widelifepimps.com and zooinsiders.com.
Done with the circus
After watching a horrifying video and reading an article on the cruelty that circus elephants suffer, I will no longer go to the circus or let my children go.
I am actually grateful that someone would take the time to educate us on the terrible ways that elephants are trained. After seeing the elephants get brutally abused, I think there should be a law against it. I think it’s horrifying and I feel bad for all of those animals. I will never support circuses with animal acts ever again.