Taking On Circus Cruelty!
We Just finished up the last of our 2018 UniverSoul Circus protests here in Jacksonville, Florida.
In 2006 a friend of mine named Kiki introduced me to the horrors of the circus.
I decided to join her for a circus protest. I had never been on the front-lines, so to speak, up until this point I had only done design work to help animal rights groups. I was happy to be getting involved with the movement and asked her what protesting would entail; she told me that we would be holding signs and handing out literature about circus animal abuse.
Before attending my first protest I wanted to have the facts, so I started researching. What I learned about the treatment of circus animals was heartbreaking. Tigers are held in small cages for as long as 23 hours a day, elephants were chained and suffered from stereotypical behavior, animals were routinely beaten to perform and this was just the tip of the iceberg in regards to the level of torment these animals faced at the hands of the circus.
Ringling Brothers Circus was the name of the circus I was going to be protesting against, for the animals at Ringling the abuse runs deep, for over 100 years Ringling has made a fortune off of the exploitation of animals.
On the day of my first protest I was nervous, I didn't know what to expect. When I arrived there were 10 other activists there protesting.
It was disheartening to see how many people were attending the circus; I thought if these people only knew the truth they wouldn't go in. The protest was an emotional roller-coaster for me, we were either berated by circus goers or ignored. I didn't know how to feel about this. Here I am trying to tell people that circus animals are abused, and they still bought a ticket. I didn't understand. If someone told me I was contributing to animal abuse, I would reconsider what I was doing. It was upsetting to know that so many people would rather turn a blind eye.
After the protest I was feeling mentally and emotionally drained I was not prepared for such a hostile environment and to be honest I felt completely and utterly hopeless, at the same time I knew something had to be done I could no longer sit back and allow such abuse to take place.
I continued to attend circus protests every year and one day the woman who ran the protest moved, so I decided to take the lead and formed my own group called JaxProtest.
With a background in graphic design and marketing I started creating a brand for our group, as well as designed literature and posters in order to stand out and capture the attention of people in hopes of raising awareness. I used the power of social media to recruit volunteers and get the word out, JaxProtest started to take off. I thought of JaxProtest as more than just protesting, I thought of it as a civil rights movement.
These circus animals deserve to have someone stand up for their rights and I was going to be that person.
Ringling Bros Circus held one of their last shows here in Jacksonville, FL, and we were there protesting. Even though it was their last show, we wanted to let people know as long as the animals are suffering we will be there to expose the truth and remind circus attendees that their ticket purchase allows the cruelty to continue.
There are still circuses that use animals and so our fight continues.
This past weekend we protested UniverSoul Circus, a circus that has talented performers, with only a small portion of their show geared towards animal acts, they're doing themselves a great injustice by having animal acts if they stopped more people would attend.
UniverSoul Circus leases the animals in their show. The Tigers are caged 24 hours a day, making only a minuscule appearance in suspended cages as a finale to their magic show.
We have started a petition urging UniverSoul to end their animal acts. Please sign and share our petition. Together we can stop this cruel form of animal exploitation once and for all!