performing animals

On Animals in the Circus

This is incredibly divisive ground. There are those who see animals in circus as an important tradition, a preservation of our heritage. The concept of animals beaten regularly for the entertainment of others is incredibly evocative of emotion, however, and has been quick to take the world by storm. But there are not just two sides to this debate. I argue that there are at least three. 

Those who are for these animals performing in circuses not only see the tradition as an incentive for profit, but truly believe that the animals are being done a service. As the late Reg Bolton argues in his 2001 essay, animal liberation is, in some ways, a fantasy. We see ourselves as a higher species and therefore charge ourselves with the protection and conservation of ‘lower’ species (despite, and in reality because of, the fact that we are their major threat). This leads to zoos, wildlife parks and the like. The argument Reg presents is that the circus is a better, if not ideal, arena for conservation. Animals are cared for, bred, displayed to increase awareness, and, unlike in many zoos, continually mentally stimulated.
I am not particularly one for the continuation of traditions for their own sake. It is my firm belief that cultural enrichment will continue, with new traditions and avenues created into the future. However that is just my opinion. There are most certainly those who view animals in circuses as an important part of our cultural heritage. This cannot be ignored, in the same way that it is detrimental to ignore the cultural traditions of all other peoples.

Then there are those who wholeheartedly oppose the use of animals in circuses. There are various reasons for this. First and foremost in the world’s consciousness is animal abuse. Animal rights activists the world over fight circuses over this point, and it is an issue which inspires incredible passion. The image of a poor, defenseless elephant beaten into submission strikes a chord in the hearts not only of human rights activists, but humans everywhere- as it should. There are flaws, however, both in this image and in the reaction inspires.
First and foremost, the abuse of circus animals does not pay off. If animals were treated in the manner that PETA so fully condemns, it is unlikely that they would perform at all. These circuses would cease to make profit, and become swiftly bankrupt. There is, of course, the exception which proves the rule, just as pet owners or zoo managers can be cruel to their charges- alas, the result of these cases is not the de-legalization of pet ownership.
The other problem with this image is the simple truth that most circuses today do not have animals of any kind (other than human). They either cannot afford to or have no wish to. Circus has incredible benefits in and of itself, and it is a shame to see community and contemporary circuses harmed by the reputation of circuses that do have animals (propagated by animal rights activists who do not understand the wholly diverse nature of circus).
The remaining issues with animals in circuses are more subtle. Whether it is right or wrong for animals to perform for the benefit of audiences and circuses, I can not say. I also cannot judge the psychological effects of a large animal such as an elephant being confined to close quarters, and whether travelling is of benefit or detriment. 

And so we come to the third side. The world as it stands, it seems, is not fit to accept wild animals in circuses, and perhaps this is for good reason. The exhibition of domesticated animals such as dogs and horses, however, may be a perfect compromise, especially when compared to dog and horse shows and racing. In the rush to condemn all animal circuses, rational compromises such as this are cast by the wayside. It is difficult to speak in a calculated way about an issue which evokes such a strong emotional response. The trivialization of the circus is no help, either. Despite the wave of ‘new circus’ which has been gathering momentum across the world for years now, the greater public is still caught up in the image of the traditional circus of the past. The opinion held by many on circuses is almost a throwback to the days when the travelling acrobats and troubadours had to do so against the law, and public media does not help. Articles that deal with the circus, such as this one by Vice, are regularly full of circus puns and cliches. A large portion of the world simply does not take circus seriously either as a form of art or entertainment, and as a result opinions are formed not by thought but by emotion. A compromise, therefore, is not a strong enough image to be taken up by the social consciousness, whether or not it is the best solution.

In areas which have begun to ban animal performance within circuses, the elements of tradition and cultural history which come with it should not be ignored. Neither should the financial reliance many place on animal performance. If animals, or at least ‘wild&@#8217; animals, are to be expelled from circuses, it must be through a process which takes into account these issues and hears those directly involved. Whether this is a gentle phasing out or a ban on the purchase of new animals, a solution is necessary. A solution that reaches beyond emotions, and is shaped by thought. 

effortofhosjer asked:

Hi! I love the O.R.E.O. song and was wondering whether you wrote it or "only" performed it? Either way, it's gorgeous. Also, will the little animation video be a tv commercial or what is it for?:) The song is excellent study music, too. All the best!

Hello! No, I wrote it too as well as performed it! And the animations were done by Oli Putland! :)

Graceful Gertie - Tight Rope Artist

This performing animal demonstrates a brand new method of animal training.  The animal has been trained by animal psychologist Keller Breland, at Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Breland’s animals learn by  the reward system.  No punishment is used.  Once trained, they never forget and will happily perform for anyone.  These educated animals are nationally famous.  They have been featured on television and in Life, Popular Mechanics, Reader’s Digest and other National Magazines.


The Hyena and Other Men

Photos by Pieter Hugo

Text from an essay by Will Smith for Museo Magazine

Pieter Hugo first learned of Nigeria’s Gadawan Kura, or hyena handlers, in 2003 when he received an image taken on a cell phone camera depicting several of these men with their beasts in the streets of Lagos. A newspaper in Hugo’s native South Africa published a similar image and identified the men as debt collectors, drug dealers, and thieves who enlisted hyenas as muscle in support of their criminal activities. With the help of friends in Nigeria, Hugo found the group in a shantytown outside of the capital, Abuja. They were not necessarily criminals, but rather what Hugo describes in an artist’s statement as “itinerant minstrels… a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons,” who subsist by staging performances and selling traditional medicine. Hugo traveled with the group for weeks at a time over the course of two years, taking a series of portraits of the men posing with their animals[…]

Hyenas have played a role in human culture since the ancient Egyptians hunted them for food, but they have also long been a source of ambivalence within anthropocentric models of the natural world. We tend to overlay our own value systems onto animal behavior, allowing us to understand black labs as loyal friends and marginalize less adorable animals such as the hyena. Because they scavenge the leftovers of “noble hunters” like lions, hyenas have been portrayed in Western literature as timid or cowardly. Medieval bestiaries commonly use images of hyenas mating to warn against homosexuality, likely because of the female’s bizarre genitalia. In Edmund Spenser’s epic poem Faerie Queene, hyenas are deceitful, lustful beasts conjured by witches. Ernest Hemingway best summarizes the historical prejudices against the hyena in a passage from Green Hills of Africa, in which he describes gleefully killing the animals: “[T]he hyena, hermaphroditic self-eating devourer of the dead, trailer of calving cows, ham-stringer, potential biter-off of your face at night while you slept, sad yowler, camp-follower, stinking, fowl, with jaws that crack the bones that the lion leaves, belly dragging, loping away on the brown plain, looking back, mongrel dog-smart in the face…” (Ernest Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa, Simon and Schuster, 1996 [Scribner, 1935], 37-8).

In fact, hyenas can be prolific, fearsome hunters in the wild and display intense loyalty to the pack. Yet, recovering an idealized image of the proud hyena may be as illusory a proposition as finding in the animal a “friend.” Through their interactions with humans, the hyenas in Hugo’s photographs have become the debased scavengers of cultural imagination. Wholly dependent upon the itinerant group, they move from town to town in an existence that guarantees little food. The hyena’s nomadic hunting and scavenging may play a central role in the ecosystem of the Serengeti, but photographed on the outskirts of Abudja, their wandering symbolically conjures the human condition of homelessness and exile. The hyenas have clearly been displaced, perhaps cruelly, into a human social framework where they function purely as a spectacle of displacement. Still, Hugo’s work complicates appeals to animal rights. These photographs present the hyena’s captivity as a double-sided relationship in which the humans may be just as displaced as their non-human counterparts[…]

In his artist’s statement, Hugo describes how his thoughts about the images, and those of others, have been polarized along species-specific lines: “Europeans invariably only ask about the welfare of the animals but this question misses the point. Instead, perhaps, we could ask why these performers need to catch wild animals to make a living.” Perhaps, however, the real challenge posed by these images may not be determining whether humans or animals have it worse in twenty-first-century Nigeria. Instead, they demand an understanding of political and social marginalization that can accommodate relationships of interdependency between humans and animals, even one as improbable as that between hyenas and men.

The recent discussion about Pixar changing their Finding Dory script is interesting for a variety of reasons, but at least one of them is that I have an odd take on Sea World the last 15 years or so and I’m not really sure how to feel about it.

Sea World is like an hour or so away from here, and I used to go all the time as a kid. It was a lot of fun, and I loved the shows. Back then the trainers actually got in the water with the animals and it felt like there was a lot more respect for the whales, dolphins and so forth.

Then some shit hit the fan, and now nobody gets in the water with them, and the shows have just become boring light-shows while some person talks a lot and occasionally animals do tricks. It’s like.. what the hell happened? I mean, yeah, I know what happened, but like.. they essentially sucked out most of the reason I used to go.

Last I heard, the only one that’s not been heavy-handedly changed was the Sea Lion show. The whole “Scooby Doo” feel of a Sea Lion and their trainer was always very amusing, and the interactions between the animals and the people helped show just how intelligent they were.

So for me Sea World went from like.. animals and people working together, to animals doing stuff while people talk. Which yeah, feels less like teamwork and more like watching animals act out Elite Beat Agents. I don’t get the trust and respect vibes anymore.

oh my god i hate this world.

a circus performer was killed by a tiger whilst doing tricks with it AND THEY KILLED THE TIGER,




Britain Loves EntertainmentPerforming animals

Having a bad day? Performing animals are guaranteed to put a smile on any upstanding British person’s face. A dog that says ‘sausages’? Yes please! A cat that can play the Moonlight Sonata? Bring it on! No matter how much adversity we have to face in our daily lives, the sight of an animal performing a little funny dance can brighten even the darkest of hours.

Some pets really do have what it takes to be megastars, as anyone who watched Britain’s Got Talent winner Pudsey will know. Pudsey, a brown eyed, furry bundle of cuteness, even managed to melt the heart of Simon Cowell when him and his 16-year-old owner Ashleigh danced, jumped and goofed around in perfect rhythm. Then there’s the internet sensation of the decade – Fenton – the dog (and owner) who couldn’t behave around deer. He’s so popular he scored 6 million hits on Youtube, and you can even buy Fenton merchandise.

Any dog that can sing for his supper (literally) is catnip to Britain’s animal lovers, as is any cat, hamster or ferret that can knit, dance, wear a top hat and sing God Save the Queen. Talented, funny or just plain out of control animals are adorable, hilarious and oh so British. And let’s be honest, some animals are just superior to humans. This cat can even DRIVE A FIRE ENGINE.

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By Lucy Sweet

Today's Action - PAWS

Vegan or not, most people love animals. We invite them into our homes as pets, visit them in zoos, and watch them perform in movies and circuses. Unfortunately many animals used for entertainment are the victims of abuse and poor living conditions, and we can all agree that no creature deserves to live that way. Join Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), an organization that helps protect animals from mistreatment by providing sanctuary, preserving wild species, and enforcing the best standards of care for all captive wildlife. Become a PAWS Partner to support their operations and the day-to-day care of the animals. If you have a specific animal you’d like to help, consider “adopting” one - while you can’t take an elephant home, you can send a monetary gift and receive updates on your sponsored pal. There are also many specific causes that could use your donations and campaigns that need support - visit the website find out more about how you can get involved.

#13GreatMotoringMoments: That time we challenged Porsche to a race. Even though Porsche didn’t show up, at least one of their owners with some cojones did. In the end, the Porsche did end up winning fair and square, beating us to the finish line by 2 seconds. Or roughly $38,000 per second. See all 13 moments celebrating 13 years in the US.