9 de dezembro de 2007

It's that time of year again...





The last time I went to the circus I must have been 11 or 12. It was one of those brand-name circus that was very proud of displaying an enormous number of exotic animals. And even more proud of exhibiting a mini zoo to entertain the visitors.

Mum and Dad took Sis and I to see the animals and it was one of those experiences one will never forget. I still remember the acid smell of urine and I can still hear the roar and growl of very upset animals confined to miniscule cages in which there was hardly any space for their bodies. Mum and Dad were always like this and they would usually give us lessons in life that we would not forget. This was precisely one of those.

After seeing the animals Sis and I were very silent and to this day I still don't remember the circus show. All I can remember of that afternoon was the animals in pain. Now, because it's the holiday season, there are circus tents everywhere and posters announcing "Bengal Tigers" and "Nile Hippopotamus" and all exotic animals we can imagine. One of the circus even has crocodiles! What is worse is the emphasis on how wild and ferocious the animals are that will have to be tamed by humans. And humans will fight the dangerous beasts and win (to the applause of the crowds).

Of course humans will win the fight! We are talking about tired, underfed, sick, depressed animals. Animals abused by all tortures possible. Exposed to extreme weather, forced to live in confinement, obliged to travel long hours, taught by brute force and punishment things that they would never do in the wild, humilliated with each show.

Rational creatures we are. So rational and civilized that we pay to watch shows of violence just like the Romans did and we, in this civilized rationality, consider the Romans barbarians. And what surprises me even more is that those of us that raise a voice in favour of the rights of animals are seen like strange people and crazy activists. In fact, the only time I almost went to jail was when I was in an Arab country trying to stop four men that were kicking and hitting a dying donkey that had simply refused to walk another step.

A pile of skin and bones, overburdened and obviously malnourished I saw the donkey collapse right in front of me. Imediately those men started to kick and beat the animal and it was so tired and sick it just didn't move. It didn't even make any sound. It didn't try to defend itself. It was as if all he wanted was to die and put a definitive end to its suffering. I couldn't take it.

I grabbed the very few words I know in Arabic and the thousands I know in English and went straight at the men. I don't remember much else because I was seeing red. I think I pulled one of them by the arm, something like that, but I'm not sure. I remember a crowd gathered. I remember my husband trying to stop me and talking sense to me because we were alone and very far from protection. In the end, he managed to take me out of there before the police came.

He was, most naturally, furious at me. I was furious at the men and my heart was full of immense sympathy for the donkey, so much I could feel physical pain. I remember looking back and seeing the crowd and the men in their dirty djellabahs gesticulating in the air and very angry. I didn't help the donkey I know, but I didn't stay still, I didn't turn a blind eye and did nothing.

With the circus it's the same. I don't contribute in any way to the show and if ever I have kids, they surely are not going to the circus with mom.

It's more than time animals should be banned from the circus activities. It's slavery. It's cruelty. It's abuse. It's injustice. It's horror. It's a manifestation of our own irrationality.

26 comentários:

antonio disse...

Ok, so Mum and Dad did it and you got a childhood trauma. What do you plan to do? Take the kids to Disneyworld and talk them about world starvation, when millions are spent just for stupid entertainment? That Santa is a fake, and they will be better off giving all their Christmas gifts to help Darfur?

No one should be grown up at age of 12…

Rui Caetano disse...

Muito interessante.

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Antonio,
Such bitterness! It's so unlike you!
And no, I didn't get any traumas. But, yes, I grew up fast. I still don't know what I'm gonna do with my kids, I just know I'm not taking them to a show of cruelty. As for Santa, I believed in him until very late in life and had to find out the truth on my own experiences...

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Rui,
Thanks!

António de Almeida disse...

-Sorry Blondie, mas vou escrever em português, porque vou alongar-me. Este tema toca-me muito, e eu próprio, sou muito confuso nesta matéria. Por um lado, adoro animais, ainda este verão fui fazer um safari fotográfico no Quénia e na Tanzânia, e só quem realmente gosta de animais, o faz, por outro lado, recuso terminantemente ter qualquer animal em casa, ainda me dói fundo, ter perdido um papagaio que viveu comigo desde os 7, 8 anos, não posso precisar ao certo, mas que moribundo nos braços do meu irmão, me fez conduzir como doido, passando sinais vermelhos, e desrespeitando todos os demais sinais e regras de trânsito, sem que o meu irmão protestasse, na estúpida esperança, que se chegássemos 2 ou 3 minutos mais cedo ao veterinário, o destino fosse diferente! Por outro lado, não tenho qualquer problema em adquirir um casaco de pele verdadeira, como não tenho em comer caça. Mas não estarei sózinho, levado á letra, todos os que não sejam vegetarianos, estarão a practicar o mesmo acto. Por outro lado, não gosto de circo, aprecio ver os animais no seu habitat natural, mas sou aficionado das touradas, defensor até dos touros de morte que vejo em Espanha. Este é um tema, onde quase todos nós, admito que os vegetarianos sejam uma das poucas excepções, nos estamos sempre a contradizer, o circo é apenas mais um assunto, gostos á parte!

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Antonio de Almeida,
The things we do for our pets! (I also know what's like to drive like mad to the vet with a puppy trapped in a carpet that he had chewed, or when he was all stung by bees).
Strangely enough I don't have such radical views on bullfights. They're less cruel than keeping animals enslaved in circus. I don't like bullfights that much, but I have a certain admiration for it. Besides, the bulls are a species created only for that purpose, they would become extinct if bullfighting stopped and, on top of that, I believe that bulls are much more respected than the animals in captivity. "Toreros" speak with admiration of bulls, they don't degrade or humilliate them show after show. It's a cruel show in any case, but not as cruel as wild animals not fed, not drinking water for hours, kept in poor sanitary conditions all their lives.
(I'm jealous here with that safari of yours, but hey I went whale watching in Massachusets:P)

quintarantino disse...

I don´t quiet enjoy going to the circus also. Well, I like to see some of the acts performed by the Flying Bellini´s, The Amazing Human Torch and the Damn Maybach Rich Clown...
As for the aninals, I always wonder what kind of life do they have. But I guess one must also consider thta a lion is a lion, and a horse is just a horse. I guess it's different. But I'm not sure.

As for your little adventure in that arabic country, let me tell you that if I were one of them arabs I would most certainly proposed a fair and square deal: those other three could keep the donkey and... oh, silly me!!!!
But I would have loved to watch a Blonde in fury...

By the way, is someone bragging on that whale stuff or what?

Peter disse...

Li o texto todo, em especial a tua acção em defesa do burro.
Destaco, por concordar inteiramente, a parte final:

"It's more than time animals should be banned from the circus activities. It's slavery. It's cruelty. It's abuse. It's injustice. It's horror. It's a manifestation of our own irrationality."

Carol disse...

I've neve been to a circus and I hate bullfightings. Bulls suffer and yes they are left with no water for hours. In Portugal, after being tortured in the arena, they go to a slaughter-house but most of the times they wait hours for that. I thinh it would be better to do as the Spanish do.
I'm not a vegetarian, but I hate seeing people mistreating animals as if they didn´t suffer!

Tiago R Cardoso disse...

De facto existem circos em que o tratamento dos animais é no mínimo degradante.

No entanto acredito que alguns já tem uma nova mentalidade em relação ao tratamento de animais, mas mesmo assim acho que um animal selvagem pertence ao seu habitat e não em números de circo.

Eu quando era miúdo ia muitas vezes a esses circos, hoje vou aqueles que não apresentam animais, são raros mas já existem alguns.

antonio disse...

Yes, you are right. Sorry, I read it once more and I didn’t like myself. For penitence I will erase from my Christmas list the full collection of “Gostosonas” videos… something to do with urban jungle, men’s stuff.

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Quinn,
When it's farm animals like horses performing I don't go so radical (I don't like it but I shut my mouth and respect it). Wild animals is totally different, because usually we are talking about big cats that need 200km2 to roam and hunt and that need 20kgs of fresh meat per day and they don't get that in the circus. We talk about bears and elephants, camels and zebras, most of which are also on the verge of extinction and should be left in their habitats.
(Curiously in Arab countries I was never offered donkeys in exchange for my blond person. I was offered cows, goats, camels and something else I can't say)

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Peter,
That donkey incident was so bad that when I came back to Portugal I started searching the net for organizations to save donkeys in Arab countries. And I found one in Cairo that rescues donkeys from abuse by its owners. And that organization was created by a foreign tourist that like me was very impressed and shocked. Well, she was much more courageous than I was.

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Carol,
You don't miss much by not going to the circus.
I'm not a vegetarian also but I agree that animals shouldn't be tortured just because they are going to be killed for food. That is an issue that deserves debate on its own.

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Tiago,
Good word you're using: "degrading". That's how I think circus animals are treated. It's in fact exposing an animal to extreme limits of degradation.

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Antonio,
Man, you're quite a character:)
I'll pretend I'm not wondering what the hell is in your Xmas list!

indomável disse...

Dear Blondie,

I don't know what kind of action I would have taken if that donkey situation had happened to me, but I can for certain tell you that cruelty to animals is one of my favorite issues of conversation with both my boys.
Circus is not part of our holiday season because the boys don't like it, but I intentionally took them once to show them how cruel it can be... Well, the boys don't like any kind of cruelty, they won't even pick a flower, so they won't kill it. They usually call me so that I can see the flower the want to give to me...
Since they were very little I've been teaching them to respect all kinds of life, all kinds. Now they tell me not to disrupt an animal, they won't allow the dad to kill a spider or an ant, they can't accept people picking flowers and just hate bull fights, even though they know the bull is raised for that, they prefer the part where you have men against bull, facing each other, no horses in between.
We're not vegetarians and sometimes they ask how the animals we eat lived when they were alive. That's the ugly part, because it's very difficult to explain to an 8 and 6 year old that I don't know, it depends on the people who had them.
But you see, we humans have to taste the pain in order to see.
If one day they ask me to buy them a motorcycle, I have a plan. I won't say NO, I'll let them choose after taking them to the Hospital, to the traumatized by motorcycle accidents department.
My policy with my children is - you have to be conscientious to choose - I give them all the information I can about everything and then let them choose. It hasn't failed me so far!

JOY disse...

Olá Blonde:

Gosto muito de animais ,mas gosto mais de os ver no seu habitat natural, é lamentável a situação a que os animais são sugeitos em circos e alguns zoos.Já tive animais em casa,mas desde a alguns anos que não tenho por não ter condições para os ter .

JOY

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Indy,
Seems you're raising your boys in a very conscientious way. I know adults should make childhood a perfect and innocent time for children, but there are things that even children should be aware of, isn't that so?

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Joy,
I'm glad you touch the issue of zoos! I'm not much favourable to them either. At least, I'm not in favour of old-model zoos with cages and small enclosures.

NuNo_R disse...

hi...

i only like twi things in the Circus: magicians and the trapezists.


kiSSes

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Nuno,
I like them two!

Joshua disse...

Dearest LightningBoltBlondie,
you gotta get over it, i.e. the so-called bitterness is as human as it can be: spill it out.

I love it! Let the hipocrits pretend surprise ouch! We, as animals and human, are now under the same treatment by the mindbenders of allways.

C Valente disse...

A minha escrita em inglês é má , mas vou lendo um bocado, por isso escrevo em portugês
saudações amigas

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Joshua,
Yes, I know bitterness is as human as it can possibly be and you do have a very special way to spill it all out. I guess this is my way of standing in awe of your bitter writing.

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear CValente,
Escreva em Português que a malta cá se entende;)