Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Dear John letter to Zoos and Circuses,

I am writing this letter to let you know that it’s over between us.  I would say that it’s not you it’s me, but I would be lying because it’s totally you.

Oh yes we have had some great times together. I remember taking Mateo to the zoo when he was about a year old. I petted a Llama and got splashed by dolphins at the dolphin show. I loved reading the signs about the animal’s original habitat and learning about conservation actions that are going on worldwide. I noticed that the animals did not seem as happy to see me as I was to see them, but I ignored it thinking that they are safer here than in the wild. The lion’s enclosures did not look as large as it does on Animal Planet, but maybe there was some extra space in the back somewhere.

I even developed some great memories at the petting zoos. Holding baby chicks and feeding the goats food between the gates. I wondered what happened to those baby chicks, because honestly how many can the petting zoo keep? Plus the small enclosures for the goats and pigs didn't look to comfy. And could animals that fly, such as turkeys and chickens, really be happy in a totally enclosed enclosure? I was willing to look past my questions as the saw the smile on my child’s face, because at least he was able to interact with the animals and form a connection between the animals in his farm books and the animal he was seeing in real life, right?

And who could forget seeing the lions perform awesome tricks at the circuses and dreaming of being an animal trainer “when I grow up”. Sure I wondered how you were able to transport large exotic animals such as elephants and lions around the country (Where were the lions roaming?) to perform in show after show, but if the animals were really unhappy or unsafe then someone would have stopped it right?

I was willing to look past all of your shortcoming because of the happy memories and the value that I told myself you offered me, my family, and society, but I am no longer willing to lie to myself. I don’t agree with who you are as a person and therefore I am breaking up with you.

My eyes were first opened when I heard about a documentary called Earthlings. This movie discussed that ways in which animals are abused for food, fashion, entertainment, pets, and medical research. I have watched numerous documentaries in my time as a vegan and after seeing this one I could no longer live in ignorance.

You would be correct in reminding me that I did not make a change right away. My love and enjoyment of you was strong. I mean we have known each other since I was a kid, but the signs keep coming. The signs that showed me you were not all that you pretended to be.

Then there was the documentary Blackfish that tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. This movie explores this multi-billion industry and the pressures and animal cruelty within it that lead up to the horrific deaths of these trainers.  I could not bear to watch this documentary, but I read and heard about this story over and over in the news and I was saddened to learn about animals being abused and stolen from their habitats for my enjoyment.  PETA even has a whole campaign against Ringling Brothers. And there was even a great article written in the Library Voice.

So no more! When I want to enjoy the company of animals I will visit my favorite sanctuary The Farm Sanctuary where the animals here were saved from a life of pain as well as the numerous sanctuary’s that exist around country. And if I wanted to experience something more exotic, well then I’ll just stick to my son’s animal books.

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