The local protest of the abuse of elephants in the Jordan World Circus has grown from two women last year to ten this year, including Sharon Caddy, former SPCA shelter manager for 10 years.
By LeRae Haynes
Last year two women in Williams Lake staked themselves to the ground in protest of animal abuse in circuses, including the Jordan World Circus, which returned to Williams Lake on July 17. This year Opal Norberg and Sheila Robichaud saw their protest grow to 10 people, including former SPCA shelter manager and Special Constable, Sharon Caddy.
Opal said that they are very encouraged by the show of support, and have even more people signed up to protest next year if necessary. “We are not against all circuses: it is the ones that exploit animals for the sake of so-called entertainment,” she explained. “There are many options out there---many circuses do not use animals and are all about human talent.”
The highlight of the protest for Opal was having a woman participate in the protest who actually was interested in going for an elephant ride last year at the circus. “Kostantina O'Connor is a great animal lover who has a wonderful interest in elephants, and who wanted to go for the elephant ride to be close to what she loves so much. After the protest last year, she researched for herself about the animal abuse in circus training. She was able to find out for herself what is involved, and now she's advocating and teaching others the reality,” Opal said. “This is what it's all about: researching and finding out for yourself.”
She said that there is a reason that 20 communities across BC have bylaws that prohibit the use of animals in circuses. “People need to know that the abuse of animals in circuses is well-known,” she said. “It was a great honour to have support from Sharon Caddy in our protest: she had previously investigated the Jordan World Circus and was aware of the many facts about animal abuse inflicted during the life of the travelling circus.”
“We protested the Jordan World Circus for several reasons, partly as a result of the long and proven history of animal neglect and cruelty by this particular circus, and partly because we hoped to increase the public's awareness as to the reality of life for circus animals behind the big top,” explained protest organizer and participant Sheila Robichaud.
“The Jordan World Circus, scheduled to perform in many BC communities within the coming weeks, has failed to meet US minimum federal standards for the
care of animals used in exhibition, resulting in charges and fines,” she said.
“The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited and fined Jordan World
Circus (JWC) numerous times for failing to provide proper veterinary care, proper handling, nutritious food and clean water, shelter from the elements, and exercise and for
inadequate and unsafe enclosures,” she explained.
She said that, in addition, JWC commonly uses bull hooks and electric prods in an effort to teach animals to 'perform’ and that this 'training' is done away from public scrutiny.
“What educational value can there possibly be in seeing animals perform tricks in an unnatural environment?” she asked.
“In addition to protesting because of the many citations JWC has received as a result of their abuse/neglect of the animals within their care, we protested because, as animal activists, we must speak and act in defense of animals who are abused,” she continued. “As a result we are calling for a boycott of the Jordan World Circus, and any circus using wild/exotic animals as part of their act.”
Even after organizing the protest for only two years, Opal said that she can see progress in people's open-mindedness. “More people are willing to listen and not be so quick to judge our actions to help the animals. Lots of homework, perseverance, compassion and positive thinking will go a long way,” she continued. “I know that these animals deserve a lot more respect and kindness than what they're a receiving now in the circus life.”
For more information visit http:///ww.circuses.com/fact-jordan.asp
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