Circuses have been on my radar lately, though, besides seeing the occasional tweet or e-mail about yet another animal cruelty photograph, trainer account or video surfacing, they're usually not. On our recent trip to Boise, Idaho, we encountered animal rights protestors outside of the CenturyLink Arena because the Shrine Circus was in town. This weekend, a friend told me it was a bit of a moral dilemma for her, but she took her kids to a circus while visiting family in the mid-west. Both of these recent experiences made me ponder the moral dilemma that many people have with circuses. They want to go to the circus, maybe it's a family tradition or they just truly enjoy the clowns, but they also don't want to support the cruelty that has been documented in the circus animal training and travel world. There's a whole lot of very good reasons not to go to the circus. And if we stopped going, and tickets stopped selling, the animal cruelty would stop too. But what else can you do? Well, here are some ideas:
- Go to the zoo. We are fortunate to have four excellent zoos and aquariums here in Washington and nearly a dozen in Cascadia. If a quality zoo or aquarium isn't an easily accessible day trip for you, save the money you'd spend on the circus and plan a weekend road trip to one near-by soon.
- Go to a farm. Search for farm tours or historical farms in your area. This can be another great learning opportunity for the whole family and it's a great way to support your neighbors instead of the circus.
- Go to a pet-friendly event like a street fair or outdoor concert even if you don't have pets. I am always happy to allow kids who ask (or to help them learn they should ask) to pet the dogs and to say "hello" to Leo. I love to talk about my pets and I take them out to be around people. You get summer entertainment (there are often clowns, jugglers and acrobats at street fairs too,) my pets get some socialization and you get cruelty free animal time.
- Find a pet day at your local library, school, park or community center. You might find and enjoy and event as small as aReading with Rover Day or one as large as our local Petapalooza. Clubs, municipalities, shelters and other non-profits hold fundraisers and events with pet parades and races all year around all over the globe. Your family can have awesome animal time and possibly even support a good cause.
- Join an animal hobbyist group. This could mean you volunteer at a rescue or begin a project with 4-H. There are so many ways to get involved with, learn about and be in awe of animals besides buying a ticket to a circus.