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Goodbye Ringling Bros!

January 19, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

Announced late yesterday, it is not in today’s papers, but if you are involved in the animal world there is a good chance you have heard the glorious news: After 146 years, Ringling Bros circus is shutting down.The announcement is an Associated Press “top story” and will be in just about every paper tomorrow.

That Associated Press story, by Tamara Lush, has changed considerably in the last few hours. The original “breaking news” included quotes from Ingrid Newkirk and Wayne Pacelle:

“‘After 36 years of PETA protests, which have awoken the world to the plight of animals in captivity, PETA heralds the end of what has been the saddest show on earth for wild animals, and asks all other animal circuses to follow suit, as this is a sign of changing times,’ Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wrote in a statement.

“Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, acknowledged the move was ‘bittersweet’ for the Felds but said: ‘I applaud their decision to move away from an institution grounded on inherently inhumane wild animal acts.'”

The newer article, titled, “Nowhere left to run away to: The final days of the circus” is without those quotes and has a somewhat different in tone. It is on line at http://tinyurl.com/jdkphdc.

Lush writes:

“What killed the circus? There are many suspects: increased railroad costs. Costly court battles with animal rights activists that led to an end to elephant acts – and the fact that some people didn’t want to see a show without elephants.”

Those of us who work in animal rights were downing champagne last night, and that no doubt includes Wayne Pacelle, as the HSUS was a leading force fighting Ringling animal abuse. (The AP story notes Ringling’s lawsuit against HSUS and others). Yet the word “bittersweet”, which Pacelle employs above, may better reflect the feelings of a large segment of society. I therefore think we might help animals the most if we share our joy with as much positivity and as little gloating as possible. The more upbeat and thoughtful letters newspapers receive, the better.

Though I generally link to an article and provide an email address for feedback, as this story will be everywhere tomorrow, may I ask you, in honor of the animals who suffered for 146 years, to take five or ten minutes to find the article in your local media, and send off a few lines to your paper’s editor, about what this move by Ringling represents for the future? If you have any trouble finding the email address for a letter to your editor, don’t hesitate to ask me for help.

Because of the paradigm shift it represents, I would not say that the Ringling decision is less important than the other news I share today. But the other story focuses on an arena that could affect billions of animals. The Impossible Burger is back in the New York Times, as it is introduced at top restaurants. The story, on page 3 of the Business Section in today’s paper, January 15, is titled “Well Done?”

Patrick Brown, the head of Impossible Foods, is quoted: “No disrespect to vegetarians,” Mr. Brown said, “but the only consumers we really care about are meat consumers.” The reporter, David Gelles, explains “A vegetarian for 40 years, Mr. Brown is not interested in making just another meatless treat for those who have already sworn off eating animals. Instead, he said, he wants to change the world.”

You can read and share the article at http://tinyurl.com/z3pas8r and respond with a letter to letters@nytimes.com

Indeed the world is changing.

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