Weekend Feedback: 11/08/2007
The elephants from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus make their way up Grant Street to Mellon Arena last year. Readers had some problems with this year's show and treatment of circus animals in general. Ringling discusses its animal care at www.ringling.com/animals.
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Tasteful dining critic
It has been wonderful reading the excellent and perceptive restaurant reviews by your new restaurant critic, China Millman, the past couple of weeks as those reviews have been very informative and helpful for those of us who dine out in the 'Burgh and the surrounding region on a regular basis.
Hopefully, those restaurants who face Ms. Millman's reviews, will take into account her comments and observations and make themselves a better dining establishment, for it will benefit not only the restaurant but also its customers.
Also, I very much appreciated last week's review on The Capital Grille ("A Tale of Two Steakhouses," Nov. 1) as I ate there during its first week and her review, specifically, the section on service, tracks my most recent experience at that establishment. I chalk up the service issues to getting settled in and learning the ropes, as my past experiences at The Capital Grille's D.C. and Philadelphia locations show that it has the experience and wherewithal to shine here.
Ringling Circus: The Saddest Show on Earth
I was appalled at the Greatest Show on Earth. This was supposed to be an exciting, family-orientated show that consists of LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS (OH MY).
Instead, it on consisted of clowns, wiener dogs and domestic house cats. While viewing the first act (lots of clowns and gymnastics), I already was concerned about the whole show. My 4-year-old granddaughter already was asking to go home. As I contemplated leaving during intermission, I saw cages were being prepared for act two, so I stayed.
The tigers came out with all their beauty and sat on the stools and raised their paws and smiled with their big beautiful teeth. That was the highlight of the show. The elephants walked gently around the ring and the beautiful horses galloped and danced for the audience.
I am not quite sure when the (baby) wiener dogs or domestic house cats became the part of the Greatest Show on Earth, but I do know one thing -- my memory of the Barnum & Bailey Circus will forever be scarred and my granddaughter would rather go see a Walt Disney Movie.
Free the circus animals
Every year when I hear WDUQ announce that the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be parading their elephants through Downtown Pittsburgh, making their way to Mellon Arena, my heart sinks. Thankfully, I have never actually witnessed the elephants on Liberty Avenue. For some Pittsburghers, this sight brings wonderment and delight, but for me the mere thought of these creatures being in the city is met with grief and pity.
I spent last Thursday night at Mellon Arena handing out leaflets and engaging circus-goers in conversation about the treatment of circus animals, on behalf of Voices for Animals and the Animal Protection Institute. Reactions to my leafleting generally ranged from polite and courteous acceptance to quiet refusal. The most surprising reaction I came across was a mother who blatantly told me to leave her alone because there were children present, as if my presence was an affront to her kids.
Had I been on my toes, I could have explained to the woman that her children are the perfect recipients of information about animal cruelty in the circus, for it is children who are often the most empathetic and affectionate towards animals.
Do you think that most kids would want to go to the circus if they knew that the elephants were shocked, prodded and punctured with bullhooks in order to make them perform? Do you think they'd be happy to know that the various big cats used in circuses are kept in small, confining cages when they aren't doing "tricks?" And do you think that children would be gleefully surprised to find out that all of the animals in the circus travel long distances for approximately 11 months out of the year, often enduring grueling periods of immobility and extremes of heat and cold?
I think that if most kids had any idea of what goes on behind the scenes at Ringling Brothers, they would end up in tears, which, in my opinion, is the natural human response to learning about circus' animal barbarism.
The fact is that circuses are sorely under-regulated. Legislation needs to be introduced to protect circus animals, or better yet, to outlaw the use of animals in circuses. This type of legislation would drastically improve conditions for these creatures, as every major circus that uses animals has been cited for violating the current minimal standards of care that are housed under the Animal Welfare Act.
It's obvious that profit drives Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey to continue their cycle of cruelty, but what is less obvious is that it's precisely the power of money that can put an end to that same cruelty. I failed to see anyone turn around and refuse to attend the circus that night, probably because the plans were in place and the kids were ready, which is understandable. Most of the people who were out for the circus seemed like good, friendly, reasonable folks. But it's time for them to push their ability to reason, to challenge themselves and their beliefs, and to speak up on behalf of those who can't speak for themselves: the circus animals.
If people begin to take responsibility for their decisions and actions, we can send the message that we are not interested in giving our money to an organization that engages in animal brutality. We can let them know that in 2007 and beyond there are better, more humane forms of entertainment that we are going to support.
First Published November 8, 2007 12:00 am