Tuesday, March 01, 2011

CIRCUS

The CIRCUS is NO FUN for the animals...

Big Cat Rescue does something called Operant Conditioning to  teach our cats to do things we need them to do for medical reasons, such  as lean against the fence to get their shots or open their mouth so we  can look at their teeth.  We do this with rewards and the cats have fun  because they are smart and bored and love the attention.  We never  punish or withhold food to make them do something, and the cats only do  it when they want to -- not on our schedule.

But because tigers and lions in circus acts must perform specific  acts at precise times and "the show must go on," positive reinforcement  is not the only method used by circus trainers or night club magicians.   Often the cats are beaten, starved and confined for long periods of  time in order to get them to cooperate with what the trainers want.  And  life on the road means that most of a cat's life is spent in a circus wagon in the back of a semi-truck or in a crowded, stinking box car on a  train or barge.

The messages the public gets from circus acts couldn't be worse.   These acts either show man dominating one of nature's most magnificent  creatures, which would never happen on an even playing field, or worse  are promoted as illustrations of the "special bond" the trainer has with  his captive.  The latter just fuels the trade in big cats as pets and  that never ends well for the cat.

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