Letter to the Editor – Jacqueline Lownie of London Ontario Doesn’t Want Animals Exploited by Cirucus’ – June 15, 2011

The Shrine circus is coming to town. How shameful that we would host any circus that continues to exploit animals such as elephants, horses and dogs simply to entertain individuals for a few hours?


For those of you who are not familiar with the story of Tyke, this will give you an idea of the life of a circus elephant. In 1994, a female elephant named Tyke, after enduring 20 miserable years of circus life, rampaged during a circus event.


Tyke killed her trainer and mauled her groomer. It took 86 shots to kill Tyke – a violent and painful end to a life that had been filled with beatings and chaining.


According to the United States Department of Agricultlure documents:

“Tyke was beaten in public to the point where she was screaming and bending down on three legs to avoid being hit.”


The circus travels to about 40 Canadian and 120 U.S. cities a year – a lot of trucking for animals in cages, being chained and subjected to prods and bullhooks. Bullhooks are used to train elephants to do tricks and are hooked behind ears and knees where the skin in thinnest. Please do some research before thinking about attending a circus – perhaps there will come a time when animals are no longer exploited just to entertain us.


Jacqueline Lownie

London, ON

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  1. I am on the fence (no circus pun intended) on this subject. We train dogs, horses and children all the time towards a certain path. Of course, violence is not the answer to that goal though.

    Many people would never see these anamals up close, which is needed to truly understand their size and where human life fits in along the food chain. Something the internet does not do.

  2. Eric, these circus animals are more than “trained”. When you have tigers and elephants, you are not getting them to perform unnatural tricks by giving them a cookie. The only way to get them to perform is by fear and pain. But they are performing for only a few minutes every day. The other 23+ hours are spent in confinement (cages, shackles, electric fences, etc, on cement or other unnatural surfaces that cause painful ailments) or being transported all over North America in all kinds of weather extremes. Who cares if we never see these animals up close? We really were never meant to, and it is arrogant to think that humans get to decide the fate of these wild animals based on our selfish desires.

  3. Eileen, how arrogant is it to kill animals and eat them? Or is that another subject?

  4. Back in the 1800s, crowds of people would pay to watch rafts of animals plunging over Niagara Falls. People haven’t changed that much since those days. Bull “fights”, dog and cock fighting, and rodeos are still popular. Circuses are just a Disneyfication of animal abuse.

  5. Stan, it is actually another form of oppression to kill animals and eat them, but as you say, that is another subject. The best way I can sum it up here is in one word: “speciesism”.

  6. Thank you Jacqueline for articulating the way that many of us feel about the abuse of animals. The amount of suffering experienced by circus animals is absolutley heartbreaking, and the vast majority of Canadians would never buy tickets to these shows if they truly understood what happens to these animals behind closed doors. I hope that the Shrine Circus will soon realize that animal abuse is not entertainment.

  7. Eric if you want to see animals like elephants in the wild you can on the Internet. Go to
    africam.wildearth.tv It’s very enjoyable to watch!!
    if you want to see the normal husbandry practices used to get these elephants to perform these God Awful tricks, and if any one wants to see spirits broken. Go to this website and watch the video in horror “Animal Defenders International”. This is considered normal and is allowed in this country too.
    We give our children cute and cuddly stuffed animals, buy them colouring books and story books of animals. Cute little Dumbo video’s to watch and then we take them to a circus where they are subjected to watch exploited and tortured slaves for nothing more than pure profit.
    Oh and parents reading this go ahead and put your child on the back of one of these elephants who had TB and could still very well have it.. umm if they get sick and die let me see who’s fault would it be. A the parents. B The Shriners, C Tarzan Zerbini. or D all of the above.. Just to let you know there is no accurate form of testing elephants in Canada for this disease.
    So for those people who don’t care that these wonderfully intelligent animals once lived with their life time herd in far off Asia, travelling hundreds of kilometers each day, foraging for their favourite foods, weeping and morning over the loss of other family members (as you or I do). Or the fact they will never be able to communicate their sadness’s, pleasures or joys with family members through their soft rumbling sounds to one another . Consider the health factors of allowing your children near an elephant . Or consider the many times that elephants have attacked or panicked at a circus and have killed or injured many due to stress and broken spirits.

  8. Here we are, one year later and the circus is coming to London again. Please, if you care at all about all these animals being used for entertainment, spread the word that the circus is not welcome in London. Remember – doing something is better than doing nothing!

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