Ringling's Elephants and then?

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Diego
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Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Diego » March 10th, 2015, 4:58 pm

For those who actually worked in shows with live animals, and remember even if the performers were broke, the animals ate before they did, the recent decision by The Feld organization to eventually retire elephants from their show is a sad ending.

Many (especially circus) shows have followed the Feld's ongoing defense and advocacy with interest and concern, as the Feld's had the money, organization, and tenacity to fight, that others did not, and if the Feld's couldn't prevail, no one else can either.

If there is reincarnation, coming back as one of Siegfried and Roy's animals would be a nice deal, they have a good life. I can remember the care Amos Levkovitch gave his birds, as if they were his own children.

It is fortunate that S&R, Blackstone, Henning, others could perform before this came down.
Keep in mind the forces that caused this are not about abuse, (real or imagined) they want absolutely want ALL animals out of performing...birds, rabbits, dogs, everything.

The continued success of the Feld organization, is it's ability and desire to change, adapt, and present a show that appeals that audiences want today, and will do so.
But for others, the future looks troubling.

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Bill Mullins » March 10th, 2015, 6:09 pm

Lest anyone else inadvertently watch a video that will ruin their day, the video linked above shows an elephant going wild, trampling people, and getting shot to death.

Watch at your own risk.

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Mark Collier » March 10th, 2015, 6:11 pm

Diego, I think it’s more complicated than that. In the wild, tigers travel great distances and follow their instincts to hunt and prey. They are amazing athletes. In captivity, they are confined to very small spaces, maybe not by our standards, but compared to living in the wild. They can’t hunt. It is their nature to hunt.

I traveled with Circus Vargas many years ago. I can tell you first hand, the elephant training methods are brutal. When not in the ring, elephants have a chain around their foot and can only stand, not walk.

I bring up this only to point out that it is a complicated issue. I am well aware of the argument that these animals raise appreciation and awareness that helps protects the species. People make the same arguments about zoos. I see both sides. It’s complicated.

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Richard Kaufman » March 10th, 2015, 7:56 pm

It's not an easy issue, but if I was an elephant and had a chance at living a long life in captivity, or being slaughtered in the wild for my tusks, I might pick working in the circus. But I'm not an elephant. I also think that different companies treat their animals differently--some better, some worse. When one side has an agenda, you can be sure that the "hidden footage" or "witnesses" will always support the agenda being presented.

There are people who would like to close every zoo in the world and return all animals to the wild. Of course any number of species would soon be extinct if that happens. And elephant might be among them.
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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby P.T.Widdle » March 10th, 2015, 8:21 pm

And the horses will disappear from Central Park.

--------

Speaking of extinctions, I recommend the book, "The Sixth Extinction."

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Kevin Connolly » March 10th, 2015, 10:04 pm

I remember when the circus has a sideshow or a freak show. There was a very small group that wanted it stopped and it finally did.

Today, they have reality shows. Go figure.
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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Richard Kaufman » March 10th, 2015, 10:18 pm

The difference between animals and human oddities is that animals can't tell us what they want, but humans can.

In the case of the side shows, I've heard that the performers were quite happy as they were making a living in the shows, which is something they might otherwise have had a hard time doing. At least that's what I've read.
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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby NYCJoePItt » March 10th, 2015, 10:38 pm

One of my favorite nonprofits that I love to sponsor is Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL. Big Cat Rescue is the largest accredited sanctuary in the country dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats. Several do come from circuses and fairs that are closing down. The work they do there is amazing and living conditions for creatures are exceptional. For my birthday last year I was able to participate in an educational feeding tour and see some of the cats that are not disturbed by visitors. Check out their videos, they are awesome! http://bigcatrescue.org/

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Aaron Sterling » March 10th, 2015, 10:49 pm

Kevin Connolly wrote:I remember when the circus has a sideshow or a freak show. There was a very small group that wanted it stopped and it finally did.

Today, they have reality shows. Go figure.

I'd agree that freak shows have moved to reality TV and point-and-laugh web sites, or point-and-be-grossed-out sites (e.g., reddit's WTF). But sideshow more generally has grown, I believe. See for example, sideshowworld.com, or specialized sites like swordswallow.org or Firepedia, which is like Magicpedia for fire performers.

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Bill Mullins » March 10th, 2015, 11:18 pm

"No wild animal dies of old age. Its life has soon or late a tragic end." Earnest Thompson Seton

There are more tigers alive in captivity in the United States than there are living in the wild.

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Jack Shalom » March 10th, 2015, 11:55 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:It's not an easy issue, but if I was an elephant and had a chance at living a long life in captivity, or being slaughtered in the wild for my tusks, I might pick working in the circus.

With all due respect, those are not the only two choices.

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Richard Kaufman » March 11th, 2015, 12:47 am

Are they the most common options?
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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Diego » March 11th, 2015, 12:59 am

I don't know if Irving Feld cut out the sideshow for any specific reason, but moving his circus into arena buildings may have been a factor. Before, the sideshow, menagerie, and games, that were open before, during, and after the actual shows, was a way to keep people on the lot and a way for them to spend more money. It may have been more difficult for indoor venues to have a sideshow or menagerie, but Sealo ("The Seal Boy") and Fred "Manipalo" Harris told me when Ringling played Madison Square Garden in NYC, the sideshow worked on a lower level of MSG.

Richard is correct, especially in the context of years before, there were few options for so-called, "special people" to live and work in. In later years when they were entitled to different diability/SSA benefits, even in their senior years, they kept working on the road, ("you mean spend the season, OFF the road?!") for they were of the generation for whom being able to say, that they were a WORKING MAN,(or woman) was a badge of honor, that they had not asked, nor needed anything from anyone.
(I can still remember playing Pete Kortes' sideshow in Honolulu, it was HOT under that tent, playing Hawaii in August and the wonderful Jimmy Yoshida watching Sealo and others doing their show hour after hour, said to me, "When I seen these MEN, working out here in this heat, and then think of the fully grown, able-bodied people collecting welfare, it's unbelievable.")

Unlike the so-called "reality" shows that ambush and set up people for embarrassment and failure, sideshow performers knew upfront what they were doing and why. I cannot imagine Pete Kortes or Ward Hall deliberately humiliating some unsuspecting person for profit, the victims not knowing the trap that was laid for them.

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Jack Shalom » March 11th, 2015, 1:06 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:Are they the most common options?

Several countries are discovering the economic benefits of preserving native habitats and the animals found therein.

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Diego » March 11th, 2015, 1:19 am

Last August at the Ventura County, (Calif.) Fair, Ward and Chris had their sideshow playing there. A good show with different performers and sideshow type illusions, there were no living human oddities. (many different factors for that)

Chris did note, that 40 years ago, a fair would ask them, "Do you have REAL,(living) freaks?" (not just photos, films or dummies/mannequins, they wanted the real thing.)

Now the fairs ask them, "You don't have any freaks now, do you?"

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby MManchester » March 11th, 2015, 9:10 am

In recent weeks MrGoat posted a comment which included the remark [EDITED] followed by an RK post asking why MrG would write something he knew would be changed.

It is unclear why my original post in this thread was deleted and not edited. My heartfelt objection to the exploitation of wild animals contained no profanity. If the issue was the video I embedded just delete the video and indicate as much. We can't know the rules if they're applied arbitrarily and some seem to get special treatment.

My intent was not to offend but to provide a stark counterpoint to the flippant initial post that suggested the animals eat first. Words wouldn't suffice.

I thought the video's content would be obvious. The context of my comments was animal abuse in circuses. Without being played, the embedded video read in the top left corner "Tyke the elephant's last day on earth." Those should be the first clues.

Option 1: Don't watch the video

This was followed by a title card which indicated it was a circus elephant that had been abused for years and would never perform again.

Option 2: Stop watching the video.

Then scenes appear of the elephant trampling trainers.

Option 3: Stop watching the video.

The video doesn't show the elephant being shot until halfway through a two-minute video. By this point someone has committed to watching it, this is not inadvertent viewing. I apologize if it came as a surprise and if it ruined your day. But then I can only think of the many horrible days the elephant endured to get to that point.

With respect to other comments here, quantity of life does not equal quality of life. Spending decades in a zoo or circus compared to an independent life in the wild is not our decision to make and breeding animals to spend their life in captivity for humans to gawk at is not life at all.
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AJM
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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby AJM » March 11th, 2015, 9:42 am

I watched the video - I'm a big boy, I can handle most things.
It did however strike me that the content was probably too graphic for a magic forum.
I think your post adequately conveyed your points and perhaps the accompanying video was an unnecessary addition.
I agree that perhaps your post should have been edited rather than deleted - however it's not my forum.

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 11th, 2015, 10:14 am

I feel it helps to inform the reader of violence - gun use on an escaped elephant in this case.

Then again we tolerate and condone selling secrets here too. maybe the price of confusing presenting novelty to audiences and experiencing novelty for oneself.

insert link to rick roll or that screaming goat video.
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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Mark Collier » March 11th, 2015, 7:22 pm

I saw the tiger trainer for Circus Vargas get mauled during a show. I believe it was 1981. The tigers lived in cages just big enough for them to stand up, take one step and turn around. It was a three-ring circus and the tiger act was in the center ring. A cable came down on a winch and raised the steel cage that was stored in the wooden ring itself. There were 17 tigers in the act, many of them were white.

That particular day was very hot and humid and the cats were in a bad mood. They kept snarling and swiping at each other, wouldn’t stay on their stool etc. Assistant trainers would poke them with sticks from outside the cage to distract them when it seemed they wanted to fight. The trainer was Wade Burck and he was trying to get 7 tigers to lie side by side and then do a simultaneous roll over. They weren’t having it. One of them kept wanting to go back to his stool and Wade was trying to get him to go back and lay down with the rest. He pointed with his left arm and the cat took a swipe at it and just laid it open. Blood was pouring off of his hand in a steady stream. He walked over to the edge of the cage and stuck his arm through and someone put a constriction band on his bicep.

He finished the act but cut it short. At one point, he was dizzy and dropped to one knee. Blood was still streaming off of his fingers. The big finish was having all 17 cats jump through the ring of fire. The ring of fire was a freestanding pole with a 5-gallon propane tank at the base. Wade set the stand and lit the fire. He started calling the cats by name to run up the ramp and jump through the fire. After jumping through the fire the cat would exit the ring through a series if cages that made a tunnel with sliding panels so the cat couldn’t go back and would be directed back to his cage w/o ever having a chance to get loose.

After the second or third cat jumped through, Wade Burck passed out. The rest of the crew kept calling out each tigers’ name in order and they each jumped through and exited w/o further incident. It seemed the tigers couldn’t wait to get out of the ring.

Once all of the tigers were out, the crew went in and gave Wade some smelling salts to wake him up and help him out of the ring. This was a matinee show. He was back later for the evening performance.

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Richard Kaufman » March 11th, 2015, 8:42 pm

When my father took me to the Ringling Brothers circus at the old Madison Square Garden, and I must have been no older than 6, it still had a freak show. I have a vivid memory of Esmerelda the sword swallower, and the postcard with the cocktail sword stuck through it that we bought. I also remember the giant, and the wedding rings he sold. I was fascinated by it, but when we later returned another year it was no longer there.

But I must have seen some folks who were physically different, because when watching Tod Browning's chilling film "Freaks" many years later, I had deja vu at certain points. I think that Wally Ford's interaction with those who were different was the most important part of the film because he treated them with affection, and no differently than the "regular" folks.
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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Richard Kaufman » March 11th, 2015, 8:46 pm

Michael, sorry, I mean to address the deletion of your post.
It hit several buttons, first and foremost was the video--as Andrew noted, not appropriate for this Forum.

But, second, we have an iron rule here, which is that politics are not to be discussed. Unfortunately aspects of this type of discussion "in the real world" have become heavily politicized. Now, granted I was either on an airplane going or coming from Japan, or in Japan, at the time I read your post and was probably a bit wobbly and rushed. So it seemed to me that your post resembled a political statement. I believe that's probably why I deleted the entire thing.
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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby I.M. Magician » March 11th, 2015, 8:49 pm

I went to an outdoor carnival in the sixties and saw Sylvia Porter who had gigantic feet. She walked around a circular area and smiled at everyone while they were staring at her enormous feet. She seemed so friendly and had a wonderful smile which made the experience pleasant rather than uncomfortable.
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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby fred kirchner » March 12th, 2015, 9:16 am

I think the elephants love to perform,lol,nothing like weighing several thousand pounds and being made to balance on a ball or stool..i always applaud the animals in the show,after all they probably can do it without the trainer,just leave a food bowl nearby

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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Brandon Hall » March 13th, 2015, 2:17 pm

There once was a time when people were in chains. Times change. Some would say for the better...
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Re: Ringling's Elephants and then?

Postby Richard Kaufman » March 13th, 2015, 2:30 pm

Animals are not people. And this is why I deleted Michael's initial post because this can easily become a political issue. So, I'm going to lock the topic.
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