West Deptford will host a disturbing display of animal exploitation this week. The Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars features dogs, tigers, and elephants—intelligent beings who perform not because they choose to, but because they are forced to under the command of human trainers wielding whips and other disciplinary weapons.
Among these trainers is Tim Frisco, a notorious elephant abuser whose unmerciful training methods are revealed in this video. Frisco instructs another elephant trainer: "Hurt 'em! [...] Make 'em scream! [...] Sink that hook into 'em. When you hear that screaming, then you know you've got their attention."
Nonhuman animals have an interest in their own lives and an interest in making their own decisions, and we should respect these interests by rejecting and refusing to fund their enslavement for human "entertainment" and profit.
In the wild and in spacious sanctuaries, elephants do not stand on their heads, as Cole elephants are forced to do. Instead, sanctuary elephants choose to walk between 3 and 15 miles per day, while wild elephants choose to walk between 30 and 50 miles per day, a choice Cole elephants are denied while confined in trailers and forced to perform on the circus tour.
Just as we can survive (and thrive) without consuming other animals as food and as clothing, we can survive without forcing other animals to perform for us. Circuses can survive as well.
As the all-human cast of Cirque du Soleil has proven, and as some of the talented human performers of the Cole show have revealed, circuses do not need nonhuman animals to be entertaining.
Now more than ever, people are recognizing the injustice inherent in the enslavement, objectification, and commodification of animals forced to perform against their will.
At least 10 countries, including Paraguay, Austria, and Singapore, have banned the use of wild animals in circuses, with Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Greece banning the use of all nonhuman animals. Several United States cities, from Revere, MA, to Huntington Beach, CA, from Clearwater, FL, to Port Townsend, WA, have also implemented bans.
Please consider boycotting the Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars and any circus that exploits nonhuman animals for financial profit. Please consider patronizing shows and events in which all participants are willing.