Tracy Murphy has a smile that literally radiates love – love of life, love of humanity, love of animals – everything. It is a smile you can read at night by. She is an animal rights activist from Cheektowaga, NY, which is just outside Buffalo. Recently this good and decent woman became incensed at the presence in that city of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus.
You would think that by the first decade of the twenty-first century, human beings might have evolved to the point where we would be able to share the planet with the animals that were also placed on this earth by God. I believe that they were not put here merely to amuse us or to feed us. Tracy Murphy shares that belief – passionately – and in an articulate voice which I won’t even attempt to paraphrase.
The following is a composite of two different letters she recently wrote. One was to Mayor Byron Brown and the city council of Buffalo, the other was on the website, wnymedia.com:
The Ringling Circus has left town, and I am here dumbfounded as to why we allow a business to perform in Buffalo that is clearly abusive to Asian elephants, an endangered species, as well as many other exotic and domestic animals. The inhumane treatment toward animals with whips, blow torches and bull hooks has been documented for years by many animal welfare agencies. Currently there is a Federal lawsuit against Ringling for illegal abusive treatment toward a protected endangered species, the elephants.
The animals are clearly kept in bondage and suffer greatly every day of their lives. Why can we not reach into our sense of common decency and ban these circuses with animals? I ask all of you this question and so do many others.
Unfortunately, many people do not know who how brutal elephants and bears and other animals are treated in the Circus. During the show, everyone is smiling and happy. The animals seem like they are enjoying themselves with their trainers and having fun as well. This is the image that Ringling wants us to see. However, there is a dark side to the Ringling circus. The Asian elephants are chained for 19 hours a day where they can only lean forward and stand in their own urine. The bears have it just as bad and are kept in tiny cages, hardly having enough room to even turn around. These animals do become neurotic and it is evidenced in undercover video footage taken by many animal welfare agencies. Signs of neurotic behavior (going mad) are elephants and bears swaying their heads back and forth.
I care deeply for these elephants, as well as all the animals that are exploited in these circuses. I am not ashamed to stand up for every one of them, and if it takes standing on the street corners of Buffalo to collect thousands of petition signatures to help these animals, I will peacefully and proudly do that. I cannot think of any other way I would want to spend the rest of my life.
As Martin Luther King, Jr said, “One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
All of this is documented and can be viewed at the website: http://www.circuses.com.
Let freedom ring for these animals. Let freedom ring.
When not in their prisons or bonded to heavy chains, they are being trained with the most cruel methods imaginable. Elephants are violently struck with a long handle with a sharp hook on the end. This is called a bullhook, and it tears into the sensitive skin of the elephant. The beatings are violently repeated until the elephant does the trick its trainer wants to be performed. Even after the training session, the trainers continue to beat the elephant with the bullhook to “keep them in line.”
There is no special bond between a trainer and an elephant as Ringling would want you to believe. There is only pain and suffering between a slave holder and slave. The bears do not have it any better. They are struck as well so they can perform tricks. But for a bear to jump through a hula hoop takes special effort. So the trainers burn the bottom of the bears’ feet so they jump. This is the kind of suffering we indeed support if we go to the circus.
This is not about tradition. As Albert Schweitzer once said, “The thinking person must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another….”
Wish I’d said that, Lady Tracy! Animals cannot speak for themselves. They are damned lucky they have you speaking out on their behalf.
Love and Peace,
TRACY MURPHY’S REQUIRED READING:
Animals, Properties and the Law
by Gary Francione
In an e-mail I received this afternoon, Tracy told me:
“Gary is a distinguished professor of law at Rutger’s University – a very smart man. I think this would be a good book to help open everyone’s eyes to the little (or should I say ‘no’) legal protection animals have. He bases that on the moral reasons animals should have rights and must not be considered property. If we continue to view animals as property, then we will never change our mindset toward them.”