I know I have been distracted with dogs and cats and their names while I ought to have been studying. But I had a genuine reason for needing this distraction - I had classes over the weekend and on Sunday on the way to class I lost my purse with all my credit cards, debit cards and my driving licence and it has been stressful making sure everything is in order. yesterday, there was a bandh call in this state and I could finally sort out things only today. So now I can get back to more serious issues for the argumentation.

Are you for or against the idea of Zoos,Circuses and games like the Bullfight?

Those who know me here know my love for animals and hence my views are definitely onesided. I am totally against circuses.
How can there be genuine pleasure in watching tigers and lions behave like frightened cats in a circus? Why do we want bears and monkeys to cycle and elephants to perform? What makes people enjoy a behaviour that is so unnatural to a wild animal? What is it they admire - the ability of the man to control such a fierce animal? What makes them want to see the king of the forest quiver before the crack of the master's whip? What makes the lion afraid - the pain of punishment?
Do human beings have a secret urge to subdue the natural behaviour of other creatures or is it a desire to feel control over others who are strong in their own way? Some times I notice this tendency among parents,teachers and bosses - an inexplicable satisfaction of ego by controlling others through fear and not by exhibiting natural superiority through other qualities.I find them so pathetic.

As for Zoos, I guess they are ok. At least the animals are not forced to behave contrary to their nature. And as their habitat is being slowly destroyed and encroached upon by Man, this is the second best alternative possible and they serve an educational and social purpose too. As long as there is no abuse and they are fed well, I suppose it is acceptable. Even then the issue is that by keeping them in cages and depriving them of their natural activities and slowly making them incapable of hunting for their food are issues that make one feel uncomfortable.

As for games like Bullfight, Boxing etc, I simply cannot find bloodshed amusing. So I cannot see why we cannot get rid of them and turn to other sports.

As I said in the beginning I know my arguments are all on sided but this is where I need your help: please throw some light on the other side, if there is one.

Are you for or against the idea of Zoos,Circuses and games like the Bullfight?
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17 Responses
  1. Hip Grandma Says:

    I am with you and NO bull fights and circuses for me.But people do get a kick by overpowering a bull literally catching it by its horns.I think it is man's desire to conquer that makes him indulge in such a passtime.

  2. Deeps Says:

    Same here. I have ever been to a circus only once and I liked all the acts except in which they used animals. Its really painful to see the tigers, elephants being treated that way.

    I don't really like zoos either, atleast the animals are alive and are not being tortured!! I'd prefer them in their natural habitats like preserved forests..

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I'm playing the devil's advocate here, so bear with me on this long response.

    Zoos used to be the only way for people to get a feel for "exotic" animals. It just happened that the conquerors were western and to them asian and african animals were exotic. They setup zoos in their native countries to share their awe with regular folk. If Indians (we) had ruled South America, we would have seen llamas, vicunas and other exotic creatures in our zoos. Essentially it was a way to share the joy and excitement of finding something new with other people. This is not just history, it is true even now. Kids in the US are always excited about seeing an elephant or lion in zoos. Most of them would never get to see one in real life if not for zoos. But we have more awareness and animal rights activism these days, so more care is going into the facilities and handling of animals in zoos. Many elephant exhibits in the US have closed because they now realize that the space alloted is no way near what the animal is used to in its natural habitat. - makes for interesting reading, the elephants are getting ready to travel in a few weeks.

    A circus is no different from having a giant killer whale perform acts in SeaWorld. Other than the traveling part, it is just animals and man performing acts for the pleasure of other men. BTW, not all circuses travel, some have setup shop permanently in Las Vegas and NYC. The "unnaturalness" of these acts is what makes it captivating. The care of creatures large and small in foreign environments takes a lot of money and these acts brings in the crowd, hence the money necessary to take care of them properly. These places like SeaWorld help rescue animals from pet owners or creatures caught in the net etc and take care of them for the rest of their lives if required. Their primary goal is to treat them and release to the wild, but due to many reasons it is not always possible. So they have to be taken care of, which costs money. One way to defray the cost, in addition to donations, is to train them to perform tricks, make children scream with joy, make parents pay for tickets. Also don't forget that these zoos and circus-like theme parks also are in the forefront of animal research, which you guessed right, costs money and the shows they put on bring some income.

    I don't have a problem with zoos or circuses as long as it is humane (let's not get into the defintion discussion here).

    After all this work you're having me do, you better be coming home with straight A's from the test - that's what my mother would say when I discusses school work with her.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    No, no, no.
    Zoos aren't great in reality. The conditions are not natural for the animals. National parks are better, as they can be in their natural habitat.

    Circus, bullfighting et. al. - No!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I am not at all in for circuses.. for all the reasons that you stated.. :)
    Zoos are also not ok with me, but then the poor animals wud be left to starve if they were to be in those fading off jungles...
    Bullfights are tooo horrible and I cant even talk abt them!

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Bullfights and similar games where a man stakes his life and fights a stronger animal are exercises to stay ahead of the survival game.
    People who do not have the luxury of a sheltered home and all the protection have to keep themselves fit physically to stay ahead or keep themselves ready should there be a need to fight.
    Very similar to the military exercises during peace time.
    Circuses not only show how man can bring the wildest animals to obey him but also how they stretch themselves to the extreme through the kind of acrobatics they perform. It is as much an example of what discipline and training can do.

  7. Mahadevan Says:

    I am not a great lover of animals and yet, I cannot stand cruelties being inflicted on animals.

    I agree with Vidya that Zoo and circus provide an opportunity to children to have a 'feel' of the animal world though, the animals are a little uncomfortable, outside their normal habitat. As we enjoy small children speaking a sentence or two or their struggling to run fast, we do enjoy animals performing certain human feats. We find thrill in anything unusual.

    On bull fighting, it is interesting to read what Macalay had to say:

    " Puritans hated bull fighting, not because it pained the fighting bulls, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators".

  8. Usha Says:

    hipgran: watching these lions and elephants behave so unnaturally makes me want to cry.There seems to be a hidden side in us which is still savage and likes these

    Deeps:Yes deeps I remember the post you wrote and I share your sentiments.

    Vidya: I know I could count on you and it is a bonus that you came up with contrarian point of view. Thanks. While I can relate rationally to the whys and wherefores of the existence of zoos and circuses, I still feel man is wrong in using animals for his amusement. How will our children learn that the other parts of animal kingdom have as much rights as we do. The ethical issues of research on animals bothers me too but at least can be justified in part in terms of the progress in knowledge.
    But I am going to use your points...Tres bien is the highest (above 85%) and here I am studying for a pass!!(50% in every section!)But sure I am going to work harder from today.

    Kishore: yes most places are moving towards natural parks now I think But even there the conditions can be pathetic like it used to be in our own BGT before.

    The SG: So why dont we preserve their habitats in the interest of bio diversity rather than comfoorting ourselves by giving them a 4 * 4 cage. Apparently some of them find it hard to reproduce in such artificial conditions!!

    Bha658:Thats an interesting point! But isnt civilised man supposed to be using his brain in stead of his physical power in the survival game?
    Another interesting point about circuses teaching discipline - mmm, will think about it.Thanks.

  9. Usha Says:

    Mahadevan:Yes, as with Vidya, I can completely understand the reason why children and some adults enjoy these animal tricks - but I do feel it is wrong on our part to flaunt our superiority this way.
    Just imagine a room ful of wild animals making a a few human perform - wouldn't it outrage you?
    (I imagine wild ragging is born of a similar impulse!)
    That was a very interesting quote and yes, I object as much to the enjoyment as to the cruelty! LOL

  10. Anonymous Says:

    This was too good to pass up, enjoy!

    BTW, I was only kidding about the straight A's, I'm sure with thought you've been putting into it, you'll do very well in the test.

    And forgot to add yesterday, sad to hear about the loss of your purse, glad you were able to set it straight.

  11. Artnavy Says:

    Fights of any kind- no no no

    circuses- as a child i romanced them but now i feel really bad

    zoos- better than the way soem pets are ill treated
    parks/ wild life reserves- much better option

    I can proudly say that last week, I prompted a person to give up her turtles( whch she could harldy take care of) and whose source was suspect...i kind of devillishly told her that the customs would be after her

  12. Usha Says:

    Vidya: Haha..thanks for that link. I hope they dont have any Indain animals - then they may have to do a Homa with fire to make them feel at home!
    Ya the whole joy of studying at this age is that you want to do it for your satisfaction and marks dont really matter.

    Art:Hahah she probably thought you might tip off customs. And so where did she leave the turtles?

  13. S! Says:

    Used this post of yours to remark on a slightly different topic. Hope that is fine with you.

    About this post, I think I do not know definitely. I cannot say definitely that an elephant does not enjoy kicking the ball or that it is unnatural. I'm with you if you are saying that the means to get these performances are inhuman, but if we find that that was not entirely true, I do not know if I agree in principle alone.

    But like I remarked in my post, very legitimate questions these, & definitely there is enough to the issue to ponder about.


  14. No to bullfights, absolutely.

    Circuses- yes, if the animals were looked after/loved like in the Enid Blyton series on Mr. Galliano's Circus. But I guess that's possible only in Enid Blyton's world, so no to animals in circuses as well.

    Zoos- I love taking my 3 year old son to the Mysore Zoo. But here again, I wish we could get to have more nature/safari parks, where we get to see the animals in their own environments, rather than preserved artificial ones. But I am pretty scared to go past that tree in Bannerghatta Park, I think, which has snakes all wound up/hanging down from the branches... I shudder to think of any of them dropping on me... Brrrr!!!! I guess zoos are ok so long as the animals are not crowded into their spaces, and are not harassed by the 'visitors'

    HAve seen that sign at Bannerghatta. Quite true, I feel

  15. Usha Says:

    JLT: Have you checked th PETA site for insights on what happenes to animals in zoos, circuses and animal fights.
    check out the links here:

  16. Usha, Unbelievable and heartbreaking. I fervently hope that people like these are an aberration rather than the norm.

    Poor elephants. They are so huge and men by comparison are so puny, but that Machiavellian brain of man can make him do shaming deeds of cruelty and vindictiveness. Which the poor animals wouldn't even dream of. No wonder you read of so many elephants grong their mahouts to death. All that resentment and agony turns around, I guess.

  17. Usha Says:

    JLT: I felt terrible after seeing the video and reading the stuff about what happens to the animals used in bullfight, horse fight etc.
    Man can be terribly cruel.