Should Animals Perform in the Circus?

animals in the circus are maltreated
Photo Credit: Peta.org

Entertainment took a different turn when Philip Astley, the father of modern circus, opened the first circus ever in London, in 1968, where he performed the trick riding. He rode in a circle rather than a straight line and this along with many other formats brought up the name “CIRCUS”. 


Animals performing in the circus
Photo Credit: Cairoscene.com

A circus is a band of entertainers who perform activities that incites smiles, laughter, happiness, joy, and fulfillment just like any other entertainment outfit.  Shows in the circus usually includes clowns, tightrope walkers, dancers, magicians, hoopers, jugglers, trapeze act , unicyclist and animals.

Today, a lot of circuses around the world keeps wild animals (trained) in captivity for entertainment in the circus, performing various animal shows and stunts. Animals used in the circus include the giraffe, lion, elephant, tiger, leopard, cheetah, monkey, rabbit e.t.c

Animal activists around the world has pushed against keeping animals in the circus, giving a whole lot of cogent reason for this fight and this is sure bad for business, for circus owners. The Mexican congress banned the use of animals in circuses in 2014, the UK government is now set to ban the use of animals in circus in 2020 and theunited states of America was not left out.

It is believed that Animals in the circus, as well as animals in captivity are being physically abused, mistreated and they go through an unimaginable process and pains just to perform as expected in a circus. Some animal trainers even go as far as using whips for the animals, electric shockers and bull hooks, so they will act accordingly.  According to PETA an animal right group, during an undercover investigation of Carson & Barnes Circus, video footage was captured showing animal care director Tim Frisco training endangered Asian elephants with electrical shock prods and instructing other trainers to “beat the elephants with a bull hook as hard as they can and sink the sharp metal hook into the elephant's flesh and twist it until they scream in pain”.  These animals are so cruelly treated that even the lions, tigers and leopard and elephants do not get as much outside exposure as they are supposed in their natural habitat because they are always locked in cages and in shackles.
Should animals be kept in the circus?
An elephant being shocked with electric, Phot Credit: Peta2.com


These then brings us to the big question “Should these animals be kept in the circus at the mercies of their cruel trainers, or taken to the zoo or perhaps sent to the wild and forest reserve”?

How the Giant Panda Almost Got Extinct

china and the giant panda extinction saved
Photo Credit: worldwildlife.org

The beautiful big black and white colored giant panda with thick hair that shields it from cold is one of the world’s most beloved and famous animal, as it has featured, in movies, books and cartoons especially the comic martial “Konfu Panda” cartoon movie but yet it has suffered a great deal of misdeed from so many factors, putting it in an endangered spot in 1990 but that changed in 2006, drawing a new status of the IUCN as a “Vulnerable specie”.  Now, what factors could have led the pandas to the endangered list, and how were they able to bounce out of it to the vulnerability state in the IUCN watch book?  But Let’s talk about the Famous giant panda a bit and why it is so famous.
 
saved from extinction by the Chinese government
Photo Credit: time.com

The Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is native to mountain forest of southwest china. With a distinctive black and white coloring, their eyes, ears, muzzles, shoulders
and leg are black while every other part of their body is white. Although they belong to the order carnivore, their main diet which makes up 99% of their feeding culture is bamboo. Bamboo is not too rich in nutrient and that’s why the giant panda consumes 20-40 bamboos a day, they can as well feed on fish, egg and rodent but this barely makes 1% of their diet. In captivity, they are compelled to feed on whatever they are fed.
They have a protruding wrist bone, a pseudo thumb, an adaptive feature that helps them grab bamboo while they munch on it. Panders reach sexual maturity between 4-8 years and may reproduce until the age of 20 years. Gestation period is usually from 95 to 160 days.
 
china and the giant panda endangered extinction saved
Photo Credit: csmonitor.com

Now, let’s see what led the giant panda to the endangered list in the first place

Deforestation: this is the major cause of reduction in the population of the giant panda. Humanactivities in the 80s altered their natural habitat, destroying the forest and bamboos in a bid to build more houses and develop lands, forcing the giant panda to starvation and death.

Reproduction: A mother bear can give birth to 3 cubs but sadly, she will give attention to just one forcing the other two to malnutrition and possible death, this is because their basic bamboo diet has not enough nutrient to support a lactating mother and her 3 cubs.

Poaching: Poaching has always been a major problem in the animal kingdom. Illegal hunting of the giant panda for their fur, bones, skins has contributed effectively in reducing their population.

Adaptation: some animals adapt perfectly well outside their habitat, like the raccoon. Sad enough, the giant panda cannot adapt very well outside its natural habitat even when put in captivity.

So how where they able to bounce out of the danger zone?

Panda Population increased by Chinese government conservation program
Photo Credit: time.com
Since 1940, TheChinese has put efforts to conserve the habitat of the giant pandas. Today there are more than 67 panda reserves in the country breeding them in captivity.

The census taken in 2014 has indicated a 17% increase in population since 2003. Now the total number of pandas found in the wild has now reach 1864 individuals. Furthermore, reforestation has increased the occupied habitat by 11.8% and useable habitat by 6.3%.

The Chinese government has put up more conservation programmes to ensure push up in the panda population and some other organizations like the world wild life are still putting efforts together to ensure that the Giant panda doesn’t rest on the vulnerability status but  totally safe from extinction.



Should Animals be Kept in the zoo?

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Photo Credit: CHRGD.ca
Zoos has been a major point where people comfortably view and study animals both for pleasure and research purposes. There are so many zoos in the world housing different kind of animals ranging from the small sized mouse to the big sized elephant. The first modern day zoo opened in 1793, in Paris, France following the London Zoological Gardens, which was opened for scientific study in 1828 and to the public in 1857 and since then the love for viewing wild animals in captivity increased. It is a stale truth that one cannot just walk into the forest, unskilled to view or study animals, it will be putting the individual in a great risk of life and death. Over the years, the growth of zoos around the world increased the captivity of wild animals. Being held in captivity takes  away your natural freedom, limits you motor activities and mobility and then causes a lot of mental stress. Now, these animals are just like humans with developed body system and a brain (some are not too advanced though) and they are bound to feel all the downtrend coming up from Captivity in the zoo. Zoos hold strongly that they maintain a strong welfare standards for animals in their care but nevertheless, going round some of the zoos will tell you otherwise. This will bring me to the big question in a bit, Should animals be kept in the zoo?
should animals be kept in the zoo? zoo animals freedom, animals in the zoo, animal welfare
Photo Credit: topchinatravel.com

While there continue to be challenges in the global implementation of animal welfare standards, the world association of zoos and aquariums (WAZA) has set up codes of ethics and animal welfare , guidelines on animals interaction  and positive animal welfare.  "The World Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare Strategy recommend that zoos and aquariums should apply a simple welfare model – the "Five Domains" – and make an ongoing commitment to animal welfare in all operations and to all animals in their care. The Strategy recommends continued education and training of staff in animal welfare, and a commitment to animal welfare research, to applying animal welfare knowledge to exhibit design and to being leading centre for animal welfare".

Keeping wild animals in the zoo and in captivity has its benefits and demerits, and we will take them one at a time.

BENEFITS
* Endangered Species: The zoo is quite a safe place for some of the endangered species as against their natural habitat where they will be opened to poachers  who care for nothing more than economic gain.
* Research and study: A lot of scientific research has cropped up from zoos with animals in the zoo as subjects. This has helped in the mental, social and physical study of animals which has led to the development of vaccines and drugs to maintain a good health condition.
* Health: Zoo managements keep up with the routine of checking the health status of animals to prevent illness and possible death
* Educate: Students from different schools around the world visits the zoos to get a firsthand experience of what they are being taught in their various institution.

DEMERITS
* The health standards in some zoos are and comparatively too low
* Some animals does not do so well in captivity
* Zoo owners puts their profit motives before the welfare of the animals

The world association of zoos and aquariums and governments at all levels should put up enforcement measures to ensure that the welfare of animals is a priority to zoos and zoo owners. Cruel treatment of animals should be discouraged and zoos selling animals to circus should be frowned at. Some animals do not do well in Captivity, as such they need to be left in their natural habitat, where they can live freely and reproduce to ensure continuity and prevent extinction.

At this point, I will say that Animals but not all animals should be kept in the zoo.

Now tell me, what do you think, should animals be kept in the zoo?




The Australian Thorny Devil

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Photo Credit: australiangeographic.com.au
Thorny devils  (Moloch horridus) are thought to have branched away from another lineage of lizards, about 15 million years ago. The thorny devil  is  quite different when compared with other lizards. It is found in Australia. its look; the two large horned scale on its head gave it its name.

The thorny devil also known as the mountain dragon or thorny dragon dissuades attackes by predators with its hard spines and scales covering all part of its body. Swallowing the thorny devil is quit a difficult and painful task and that sure gives predators a frustrating and tough time. Most of the lizards are camouflaged in shades of desert brown and tan.

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Photo Credit: pinterest.com
Thorny dragons grow up to 7.9 inches and the females are usually larger than the males. Their life span is usaully between 15-20 years.

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Photo Credit: flickr.com

The Thorny dragon lives in arid scrubland and deserts, feeding mainly on ants. The Moloch horridus is of least concern in the IUCN  redlist.