After years of protests claiming cruelty to its elephants, the venerable circus has retired them as performers this year. The specific accusations were that handlers prod the animals with painful metal hooks and poles to train the elephants to do their tricks.
Elephants have performed in circuses for at least the past 2,500 years. However, in the purest of animal lovers’ minds, any interference in what would be a natural way of life is cruel and must be forbidden.
The protesters insist the elephants should be returned to the wild, where they can live out their peaceful lives tramping through the jungles without fear. Well, maybe Dumbo should have a few worries about disease, drought, starvation, carnivorous lions, tigers and ivory poachers.
Why stop at freeing only elephants? How about race horses? They get whipped, spurred and prodded to run as fast as they can. Also, let’s put out to pasture all the other less glamorous horses, who must spend their lives pulling plows and wagons. Of course, while pondering your next dinner, let’s also ban fatal cruelty to cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, fish and other edibles.
While we’re banning working animals, let’s consider freeing dogs that lead the blind and other handicapped people. The animals go through rigorous training to erase their natural behavior and freedom so they may do their difficult jobs. When they walk with human masters, the obedient dogs must be strictly ever watchful.
What about bomb sniffing dogs? In the military, they’re trained to identify explosive booby traps on roads and battlefields. While their work often saves the lives of soldiers, the dogs frequently detonate and die. Is it time to free all dogs and horses to live out their lives in the ever-peaceful wild?
Of course, we should consider the absolutely most cruel species…humans. Would it ever be possible to ban the endless and senseless murder that elevates from street crimes to the ultimate crime of war?