Last Summer, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus also known as the "Greatest Show on Earth" took their final bow. The traveling circus, hated by animal rights activists, had decided to pack away their tents, retire their elephants and put an end to the 146-year-old enterprise.
Many activists thought the end of America's most famous circus would bring an end to the use of animal entertainment throughout the United States. In May 2017 for example, the National Geographic explained: "Why All of America's Circus Animals Could Soon be Free."
While we may be headed down a path that will end in freedom for circus animals we are sadly not there yet.
Case in point: The state of Oregon, one of the country's most progressive governments, still permits traveling circuses and seems to have left it up to the counties to regulate whether or not they will allow them within their borders.
And that's just what's happened. In 2014, Catslop County became the first county in the state to ban the use of whips and bullhooks on animals — effectively keeping circuses like Ringling Bros. out. Now four years later, Multnomah County — the state's most populous county that includes Portland — has also taken steps to ban traveling circuses. Any traveling enterprise using wild or exotic animals for live public "entertainment" or "amusement" is now prohibited.
While we can celebrate the great news, one wonders when the entire state will decide to put an end to these terrible traveling shows of cruelty. Last year, Illinois and New York became the first two states to ban circus elephants from their states. Why doesn't Oregon do the same?
Animals are not entertainment. They have their own will and desires and deserve to live a life free from cruelty, preferably in the wild where they belong. Circuses, magic shows and aquarium spectacles that use live animals reduce living, breathing beings to objects that can be forced to do as we want, when we want. It's not only cruel, it is wrong.
It's time Oregon join New York, Illinois, El Salvador, Sweden and a whole host of other national and local governments in ending the animal entertainment industry. Please sign the petition and ask Oregon governor Kate Brown to ban the use of animals in circuses.
Photo credit: Owen Parrish