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We Don't Have to Condone Animal Abuse in Entertainment

A kennel of sled dogs

A kennel of sled dogs

Dog sledding in Canada

February 5, 2022

One of the most iconic tourist draws in Canada over cold winter months is being scrutinized by experts and activists. Once essential to the survival of indigenous communities, dog sledding is embraced today for sport, and also as a tourist industry. Canada's CTV News documentary program W5 investigates what sometimes goes on behind the scenes when dogs are not pulling paid customers, as animal rights activists ask tourists to reconsider this kind of entertainment.

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A herd of elephants walks along a dirt road last week during a nearly 100-mile journey from Mae Wang to Ban Huay in northern Thailand.

A herd of elephants walks along a dirt road last week during a nearly 100-mile journey from Mae Wang to Ban Huay in northern Thailand.

Unemployed Thai elephants return to their natural habitats

May 6, 2020

The millions of unemployed in Thailand due to the coronavirus include elephants dependent on tourists to feed their voracious appetites. With scant numbers of foreign visitors, commercial elephant camps and sanctuaries lack funds for their upkeep and have sent more than 100 of the animals trudging as far as 150 kilometers (95 miles) back to their homes.

The Save Elephant Foundation in the northern province of Chiang Mai has been promoting the elephants’ return to the greener pastures of home. The foundation supports fundraising appeals to feed animals still housed at tourist parks, but also believes it is good for them to return to their natural habitat where they can be more self-sufficient.

The situation is critical. London-based World Animal Protection says as many as 2,000 tame elephants are at risk of starvation because their owners are unable to feed them.

Since last month, more than 100 of the animals have marched from all over Chiang Mai to their homeland of Mae Chaem, which is dotted with villages where members of the Karen ethnic minority live and traditionally keep elephants.

Save Elephant’s founder, Saengduean Chailert, said the project to bring unemployed elephants home was launched in response to appeals from their owners.

Her group promotes settling elephants where they can live alongside villagers in sustainable eco-friendly communities. It believes the animals are abused at many high-profile tourist attractions.

Sadudee Serichevee owns four elephants in Chiang Mai’s Mae Wang district. He followed the foundation’s approach in setting up his own small Karen Elephant Experience park with elephants brought from Mae Chaem’s Ban Huay Bong, his wife’s village.

But his good intentions were no match for the coronavirus.

“At first I thought the situation would be back to normal within a month or two. At the end of April, I lost all hope,” Sadudee said.

He and his wife agreed to bring their elephants back to her village because they could no longer shoulder the monthly expenses of close to 200,000 baht ($6,250) for rental of land and facilities, salaries for handlers — known as mahouts — and food. Elephants eat as much as 300 kilograms (660 lbs) a day of grass and vegetables.

They convinced some other owners to make the 150-kilometer (95-mile) trek on foot with them. Trucking the animals is prohibitively expensive for owners of small parks, and elephants can maintain a walking speed of 7.25 kph (4.5 mph).

Their caravan of 11 elephants, their owners and their mahouts, set out on April 30, traveling over hills, on paved and dirt roads. They were greeted by a welcome-home party on their arrival at Ban Huay Bong on Monday.

“These elephants have not had a chance to return home for 20 years. They seem to be very happy when arriving home, they make their happy noises, they run to the creek near the village and have fun along with our children,” Sadudee said.

The project is also active in the northeastern province of Surin, famous for its annual elephant festival. The province’s Tha Tum district, home to hundreds of elephants, welcomed about 40 of them back last month.

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“We don’t know when COVID-19 will go away,” said Save Elephant’s Saengduean. “So this is our task, to help feed the elephants that were laid off because of the outbreak.”


2020 Calgary Stampede Cancelled

April 23, 2020

On account of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chief Medical Officer of Health of Alberta has banned all gatherings of more than 15 people for an indefinite period of time and the City of Calgary has declared a state of local emergency. These steps, as well as our continuing concern for the health and well-being of our community, means we are unable to host the 2020 edition of the Calgary Stampede.

“This is an extremely difficult announcement to share, but it is the right thing to do,” says Dana Peers, Calgary Stampede President & Chairman of Board. ”As a community celebration, the cancellation of our annual event comes with our community and public health and safety front of mind.”

The media against rodeos

July 2016

Calgary Stampede: Torturing cows and horses is wrong, outdated and illegal

Rodeo Animals Aren't Performing, They're Suffering

Canadian Cities Should Say No To Hosting Rodeos

PETA's initial reaction to Ringling Bros announcement

PETA's initial reaction to Ringling Bros announcement

Ringling Brothers circus closed, final show on May 21, 2017

Yes, it's true. This is huge news for animal activists!

On January 14, 2017 Kenneth Feld, the chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, announced the closing of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The news was announced on the company website, citing declining ticket sales — which dipped even lower as the company retired its touring elephants.

"This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company," Feld says.

Ringling has been phasing out elephants as a result of shifting public tastes and criticism from animal rights groups over the well-being of the animals.

The company held its last show featuring elephants in May (2016), before completely retiring the animals to its 200-acre conservation center in Polk City, Fla., established by Feld Entertainment in 1995.

Elephants had been a circus mainstay almost as long as the circus itself has been a staple of American entertainment, since Phineas Taylor Barnum introduced Jumbo, an Asian elephant in 1882.

But before the traveling exhibition evolved into a regular destination for wholesome family fun, Barnum "made a traveling spectacle of animals and human oddities popular, while the five Ringling brothers performed juggling acts and skits from their home base in Wisconsin," reports the AP. "Eventually, they merged and the modern circus was born. The sprawling troupes traveled around America by train, wowing audiences with the sheer scale of entertainment and exotic animals."

For Ashley Byrne, associate director of campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the circus' final show "can't come soon enough."

"It is long overdue for this very cruel company to end their days," Byrne told NBC News.

PETA has long been an outspoken critic of Ringling's use of elephants — and it still protesting the circus' use of other animals, including big cats, horses, kangaroos and small farm animals.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus gave its final performance on May 21, 2017.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation is the retirement place for their circus elephants

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation is the retirement place for their circus elephants

Read more about Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation

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Model/actress Sherlyn Chopra's anti-circus ad for PETA

Model/actress Sherlyn Chopra's anti-circus ad for PETA

A sedated tiger is placed on a stretcher as officials start removing tigers from Thailand's controversial temple in Kanchanaburi province on May 30, 2016

A sedated tiger is placed on a stretcher as officials start removing tigers from Thailand's controversial temple in Kanchanaburi province on May 30, 2016

The end of Thailand’s Tiger Temple

May 31, 2016

Wildlife officials in Thailand have seized some of the more than 100 tigers held at a Buddhist temple in response to allegations of mistreatment of the animals.

Six tigers were tranquilized and removed Monday from Wat Pa Luangta Maha Bua Yannasampanno, which is known as “Tiger Temple,” according to animal-welfare advocates. The temple is a popular tourist spot in Kanchanaburi province, where visitors are allowed to play with tigers and cubs and even take selfies with them. Government officials plan to clear the temple of all tigers, and will spend the next week removing the remaining 131 animals. The tigers will be transported to government sanctuaries elsewhere in the country.

For years, former temple workers and animal-welfare groups have alleged that the tigers have been abused—beaten, fed poorly, and housed in small concrete cages with limited time outside. Some conservationists say the monks have illegally bred and trafficked the animals. Temple officials have denied the allegations.


Orca shows and breeding banned in California

September 2016

SeaWorld San Diego pledged to stop breeding orcas and conducting theatrical shows. Now it’s the law.


SeaWorld's orcas will be last generation at parks

March 2016

The killer whales currently in SeaWorld's care will be the last generation of the mammals enclosed at the water parks, according to a company announcement posted on its website.

"Why the big news? SeaWorld has been listening and we're changing. Society is changing and we're changing with it," the company said. "SeaWorld is finding new ways to continue to deliver on our purpose to inspire all our guest(s) to take action to protect wild animals and wild places."

In a letter to the Los Angeles Times, Joel Manby, SeaWorld's president and CEO, called the situation a "paradox."

"Customers visit our marine parks, in part, to watch orcas," he said. "But a growing number of people don't think orcas belong in human care."

He announced that the company is partnering with the Humane Society of the United States to advocate for ocean wildlife protection.

The company says the end of the controversial breeding program is just one of changes it is hailing as "historic."

It will also introduce new "natural orca encounters" instead of the old theatrical shows.

Miss Sport Croatia in a campaign for animal victims of hunting

Miss Sport Croatia in a campaign for animal victims of hunting


My thoughts

Animals have a long history of servitude under humans. They've been our food, our clothing, our transportation, our subjects for experiments, our helpers, our companions, our entertainment. Without animals civilized societies would not exist.

I focus on the exploitation of animals solely for entertainment purposes. This includes family-oriented rodeos and animal circuses. Ancient blood sports — bullfighting, dog fighting, cockfighting and the most vicious of all, bear baiting — are still common in some parts of the world. People may risk their own safety and lives for the thrill of the moment, but this is unnatural for animals, they do not volunteer for any of this treatment. No matter what people might gain from these events, the senseless cruelty breaks my heart.

We don't hear much about the animals that are abused in movie making. The Canadian documentary "Cruel Camera" gives a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. I suspect there is a lot more we don't know about.

Sadly I also have to add Thailand's Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi on the offenders list. "The Temple's popularity is based around claims that its tigers were rescued from poachers and live and move freely and peacefully amongst the temple's monks, who are actively engaged in conservation work," says CEO Dr Barbara Maas. "But this utopian facade hides a sinister reality of unbridled violence towards the Temples captive tigers and illegal trafficking of tigers between Thailand and Laos."

As for marine parks, we may not consider tiny aquariums crammed with aquatic animals for public viewing a form of cruelty. We don't stop to think that these creatures are placed in a living environment that is not natural or beneficial to them. It is all done for our pleasure and gain.

Perhaps it is the persistent belief that humans are superior to animals that makes us assume the right to exploit them. This is flawed logic. It makes more sense that a status of superiority is achieved when we treat animals respectfully. True, animals think differently from us, they do not get their thrills the same way we do. But they do not deserve to be abused because they are different from us.

In our day and age the moral argument that human life has greater intrinsic value than animal life is a cop-out excuse. The fact is we have become lazy toward our responsibilities. A Vancouver Sun article said, "Our moral failing allows cruelty to be casually entrenched. We have, at least, the obligation to face our role in determining the way animals are treated in an honest fashion and consider the standards we expect. Our wilful blindness also make it easy for government to avoid its responsibility."

Kudos to animal welfare groups like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals , World Society for the Protection of Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,League Against Cruel Sports for their accomplishments. It seems the most effective way of protecting animals is pressure from these organizations to change the laws.

The Internet has allowed information to spread faster and wider than ever. Which has spawned the popularity and power of online petitions. The Atlantic City Steel Pier diving horse show was planned to return for the summer of 2012 but met with heated outrage from the public and The Humane Society of the United States. As a result the idea was quickly scrapped.

Former staff complaints to the media of animal suffering at the park resulted in the largest protest against Marineland held on August 18, 2012. And the publicity is continuing to grow.

Forcing wild animals in captivity to perform for public amusement and taking our children to these events is essentially promoting animal abuse.

The time has passed when commerce outranks nature. Nothing is more important than nature. The planet is at a critical point where we cannot afford to turn a blind eye. The endangerment and extinction of living species have a domino effect on other species that depend on them -- especially on humans. All our efforts should be focused on conservation.

So let's keep up the good work. Continue to promote awareness. And take a stand. Because if we don't speak out for the animals, who will.

In the news

January 2011: China Bans Animal Circus

September 2011: Bullfighting in Barcelona to end with Catalonia ban

February 2012: Atlantic City high-diving horses revival scrapped after protests

August 2012: Marineland animals suffering, former staffers say

July 2013: 'We need to abolish all zoos', says Britain's most famous zoo owner Damian Aspinall

December 2013: Schoolchildren and Musicians Boycott SeaWorld in "Blackfish" Flap

April 2014: SeaWorld whales are pumped with Valium and Xanax to control their aggressive behavior

July 2014: How to Convince Someone to Stop Going to Marine Parks

August 2014: Mexico City and six of Mexico’s 32 states have now banned circus animals

February 2015: Blind Circus Elephant, Suzy, is First Rescue in Campaign to Place all of India’s 67 Remaining Circus Elephants into Rescue Centers

March 2016: Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey Circus To Retire Last Elephants Early

March 2016: SeaWorld CEO: We're ending our orca breeding program. Here's why

May 2016: The dead elephant that could change Cambodia's tourism industry

June 2016: The problem with zoos

August 2016: Officials want to ban swimming with dolphins in Hawaii, saying the mammals are getting stressed out

October 2016: TripAdvisor agrees to stop selling tickets to cruel wildlife tourist attractions

January 2017: Marineland charged with 6 new counts of animal cruelty

January 2017: Ringling Bros. circus to close 'The Greatest Show on Earth' after 146 years

January 2019: Hundreds gather in Marbella to protest against the return of bullfighting

February 2019: SeaWorld death shows why orca captivity must end

'Real Housewife' star Adriana de Moura  PETA ad  to bring attention to marine animal captivity

'Real Housewife' star Adriana de Moura PETA ad to bring attention to marine animal captivity


What you can do: Boycott these activities. It's as simple as that. Vote with your dollar. Without your patronage they cannot survive.

What you should not do: Inflicting threats or harm on the people involved is a bad idea. Hostility is not an effective solution.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


Tranquilheart (author) from Canada on February 22, 2012:

I've never heard of Snapperfest ... just Googled it (and I wish I hadn't). It amazes me how many ways people think of abusing animals and call it entertainment. The world needs more people like us. Keep up the fight for animal causes, it is well worth the struggle. Glad to meet you here on HubPages, theherbivorehippi. Thanks for reading this hub, and for your encouragement.

theherbivorehippi from Holly, MI on February 22, 2012:

So well written...such an important topic. I stand in the protest line at the Palace of Auburn Hills here in Michigan every time the circus comes to town. I spend a good part of my day writing letters and emails and making calls to protest so many events around the world. Snapperfest in Indiana not long ago just made me sick. Humans need to realize that animals are not ours to use...they all love deeply, the way we do. Great hub!

Tranquilheart (author) from Canada on February 06, 2011:

Thanks for sharing that link, irtkris

irtkris from Alberta, Canada on February 06, 2011:

Here is a great link that you should add. They expose the truth behind rodeos with lots of video evidence.

Tranquilheart (author) from Canada on June 16, 2010:

Thanks Artisina. Look forward to seeing you around here.

Artisina from Sacramento on June 15, 2010:

Great hub. Thanks for pointing out something that has been bothering me for years. Sea parks that have whales and dolphins also need to be closed. Who gave us the desire or right to lock up animals for our entertainment? Keep writing from your heart. You'll do well.

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