When Ringling Bros. Circus shuttered their tents for the very last time on May 21, 2017, it was a major win for animal advocates everywhere. For decades, concerned citizens have spent countless hours protesting the use of animals in circuses, working tirelessly to get local and state legislation passed that would ban the use of animals in entertainment, and they shared hundreds and thousands of posts on social media to get the truth out there. After all of this work, victory finally came when Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros., announced their business was no longer viable and they would be closing down for good. At last, it seemed like someone was listening! But while Feld Entertainment might have learned that people in the U.S. no longer want to pay to watch animals – that should be in the wild – perform unnatural tricks … they haven’t given up trying to pimp their acts elsewhere.
According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service pre-published notice that Feld Entertainment, the multi-billion dollar parent corporation of the recently shuttered Ringling Bros. Circus, is applying for an Endangered Species Act permit to export eight tigers back to a circus in Germany.
We knew that the future for these animals was uncertain, especially considering the fact that when Feld retired Ringling’s elephants, they just sent them to a glorified research and captive breeding center … but we really, and truly, thought they had learned their lesson.
Alas, it seems that there is still a LOT of work to be done here, and as long as there is any possibility that someone can make a dollar by exhibiting animals it seems that they will take advantage of that.
Luckily, ALDF is not taking this matter sitting down … and neither are we.
ALDF explained in their statement on the matter that proper issuance of such a permit requires a demonstration by the applicant that the underlying activity for which the permit is being sought “enhance[s] the propagation or survival of the species.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife has a history of allowing these permits to go through given that the use of said endangered species “makes a nominal donation to a conservation program.” Now, we can’t really see how whipping tigers until they jump through hoops of fire can be considered an act of conservation, but we wouldn’t put it past Feld to try and prove that.
As ALDF stated, “It is well-established that use of tigers in circuses fails to educate the public and has no nexus to legitimate species conservation. In fact, many experts opine that the use of exotic animals for entertainment acts and other traveling shows is harmful to their wild counterparts.” The legal advocacy organization plans to file administrative comments to oppose the export permit.
The bottom line is there are more tigers held captive in U.S. backyards than there are living free in the wild. This is a serious problem and should be a point of shame for people who aim to display these animals for financial gain. We love taking our kids to the circus to introduce them to wild animals, but how would we feel if we had to explain to them that this small tent is the tiger’s home because we’ve destroyed the forest and sold off their family. Okay, maybe you wouldn’t tell that to a child … but maybe we should because it’s becoming dangerously close to reality.
If we want to set a precedent for companies like Feld Entertainment or SeaWorld, we need to keep making our voices heard. Tigers might have sharp teeth and claws, but they can’t speak … and right now these tigers and all of the newly retired animals from Ringling need you to speak for them. In addition to supporting ALDF’s work to protect these tigers, you can sign this petition demanding that all of Ringling’s animals be retired to credible sanctuaries.
We’ve only made it this far because of dedicated people like you, now let’s keep up the fight and ensure a real better future for these animals – for good.
Image source: pyrozhenka/Shutterstock