Forced to give rides to multiple people at a time for days on end, a camel was spooked this week during the Shrine Circus in Pittsburgh when a child threw a shovel at its feet. Seven people were injured as a result of the incident, just one reason wild animals should never be used for carrying people.
The Shrine Circus is in trouble. As more and more municipalities do the right thing by banning live animal shows or the use of bull hooks and whips, the circus is struggling to find places to perform. Making money from the abuse and exploitation of animals is the main attraction of this circus, leaving few options for the company.
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, the biggest circus empires, shut down last year for similar reasons. Even though public sentiment is clearly shifting towards sympathy for the animals, the Shrine Circus still insists on forcing elephants, horses, camels, and more to do tricks, give rides, and live in cramped conditions.
Last year the Pittsburgh City Council enacted an ordinance that bans the use of any device that will inflict injury or pain or even intimidate a wild animal. Bruce Kraus, who sponsored the ordinance, said in a statement, “It’s an unnatural environment for these animals, and I’m not surprised that the camel reacted the way that it did yesterday. Witnessing that video, and I’ve watched it any number of times, it’s clear the animal was just terrified and reacting out of fear.”
Animals in circuses are given no chance at a natural life. Often beaten and intimidated in the training process, their suffering does not stop once the show ends. These creatures that were born to roam freely are kept in small areas in cages or chains when they are not performing. Many circuses travel and the animals are moved from place to place daily in small trucks or rail cars. And once they are no longer able to perform or give rides, many are killed.
Though an unfortunate incident for all involved, we hope that press coverage and heightened awareness of the animals’ suffering will be the push needed to finally end this type of “entertainment” in the Shrine Circus.