This weekend is Sophia`s 6th birthday weekend. With her having a new baby brother and no longer getting all the attention we wanted to make things extra special for her, especially since she`s been such a huge help with taking care of her brother. We wanted her to have a very special weekend so we planned it out in advance. Today is her birthday party, but last night we did something she`s been asking to do: Go to the circus. So since the Jerusalem Shrine Circus
was in town we made plans.
According to their Site:
The Jerusalem Shriners are proud to present the Jerusalem Shrine Circus in 2014. The Circus is a fun family adventure for everyone. Proceeds from the event benefit the Jerusalem fraternal operations. The Shriners in Louisiana are best known for their community service, civic involvement in local parades and for their support of the Shriners Hospital for children. For the Jerusalem Shriners, the circus is more than a fundraiser. It is our opportunity to give back to Louisiana, by making it possible for everyone to have a circus experience. The Shrine Circus brings something important to the community -- quality, affordable family entertainment. Each year thousands of deserving children, who would otherwise not have the opportunity to attend, experience our circus free of charge. We thank our sponsors for making this possible. Find out more about the Jerusalem Shriners at www.jerusalemshriners.com. For more information on the circus, visit www.neworleanscircus.com.
Just last week we kept noticing commercials for the circus that was coming to town. It was perfect timing since it`s Sophia`s birthday weekend. We had brought her to Ringling Bros and she loved it. I`ll admit, those the performances kind of sucked, but the parts with the animals were good and the animals in the Ringling Bros was treat motivated. You could tell the care takers really cared for the animals and every time the animal performed correctly they would get a treat or they would use the treat to inspire them. Not once during any of those performances did I see any animal abuse. After so many horrible stories of animal abuse in the circus I was relieved and figured the shows must be well monitored now. Boy was I wrong.
First of all, the weather for this was horrible. We didn`t know this in advance and of course that has nothing to do with the show. Here in Southern Louisiana getting ice on the ground is exciting since it doesn`t often happen. Well despite the nasty wet and cold weather we still went out since be bought our tickets in advance. The show was held inside the UNO Lakefront Arena so nobody had to freeze. I mean when we got there the worst part was right on the last part to the entrance (at the top of a walking ramp) it was iced over and extremely slippery. Of course Sophia thought it was as exciting as could be. As expected everything was over priced, but this was no big deal and it always is at a circus. The staff both security working the doors and the staff working the circus that we encountered were friendly.
In fact, they were the friendliest I had ever encountered at a circus so to start off I was highly impressed. Since the arena wasn`t packed we could basically sit anywhere we wanted which was also pretty awesome. They had the usual pre-show activities of letting children ride the ponies, elephants, and camels. They also offered face painting, meeting the clowns, etc. We bought Sophia an adorable elephant on a leash so she could have her own elephant to `walk` for $18 and paid $5 for each snow cone in a plastic cup (later in the show they had the cool light up cups with the snow cones but those were $15!).
We went and took our seat and after a while noticed Sophias toy elephant had busted and the lady was kind enough to let us exchange it out. While waiting they also made an announcement that they were delaying the show a bit due to weather conditions to allow the other guests to get in. So like I said, I was very impressed with how great everything was and that they were putting the show on hold so others wouldn`t miss out on the acts. Of course my excitement quickly went away when the first animal act came out: the tigers. I love watching the animal parts because I`m an animal lover, but this show had my thoroughly disgusted. From the moment those poor tigers entered the circus ring they were poked at rather roughly with their training stick or whatever you`d like to call it to get them to come out the cage. Not a little tap, but from looking at it it was looking like a nice stab at them.
Then throughout the whole time they were in the caged area with the tiger trainer he was using his whip on them, hitting them to get them to perform. Not once did I see him give them any a treat as motivation or to say `good job`. The only affection he showed was at the end when he through the whip down and sat on top one of the tigers and roughly pet him - which wasn`t mean, the tiger just looked rather annoyed like all it was was an act. The tigers didn`t look happy at all. In fact, it was depressing to watch because they looked miserable. No, they weren`t malnourished or anything, but just watching how they were being treated to make them perform was sickening.
I never witnessed anything like it in my life and I`ve been to quite a few circus shows. I mean basically this circus used scare tactics and pain to get these tigers to do the acts and I`m not okay with that at all. If it weren`t for the fact the Sophia didn`t realize what was going on and that she was enjoying her birthday surprise we would have left right then and there.
When the camels came out they didn`t seem happy either, but at least they weren`t being beaten and stabbed to do the show. The most the guy did was use the whip on the floor to make a popping noise to guide the camels. I still wasn`t thrilled with it only because like I said they didn`t seem to happy, but at least they weren`t being physically harmed. Then during intermission where you can ride the elephants I noticed how one of the trainers was guiding the elephants - with the stick that has the small hook on the end. Â Now at other shows I`ve seen them use the stick as a guide, but I`ve always seen them use the opposite end (the side with no hook that wouldn`t harm the elephant) to kind of guide them a bit. Well this guy was using the hook end and had it at the elephants neck at some points. Why? I have no idea. The elephant wasn`t acting aggressive what so ever. In fact, the elephant was still moving. He was walking slowly, but who cares? As a child I would have thought it was funny if the elephant wanted to play the stop and go game. It wasn`t crowded and there weren`t long lines. In fact, at times there was NO line. So why rush the elephant and stab him to make him walk? Again, the elephants looked absolutely miserable. All the animals looked miserable and unhappy.
I couldn`t believe it. I didn`t see any of the trainers give the animals treats and I didn`t see any of them show the animals any sort of love or affection. Other shows you could see them using treats for motivation. You could see them petting their animal here and there to show `good job` or `well done` - not at this show. The animals were strictly used for a show without a care is how it appeared to me and it outrages me that we spent money to support that. Everything else was very well done. The clowns were funny. The shows were great. But the animal part was depressing to watch and I just couldn`t believe it. I personally will never support another Jerusalem Shrine Circus again after what I saw. To me, if they`re willing to act that way in the public eye, how bad is it really behind closed doors? It`s ashamed. The only other complaint we do have are the workers who were selling the cotton candy, light up toys, etc. The ones that walk the aisles.
The whole time they kept bumping our seats at they walked behind us and it got quite annoying. There was no reason to keep walking that way because no one was purchasing the items and they never apologized about it. Basically it was just rude and annoying. They didn`t stop trying to sell the light up toys during the show either. Which I understand that`s a big part of making money, but my thing is they literally were in your face asking NON-STOP to buy a damn toy. My thing is, other shows they are like that, but once the show starts they`re off to the side, maybe top of stairs, something along those lines and not so much in your face so you can enjoy the show - not these guys. Â Hey, we ignored your plea to buy a toy the first 50 times, please leave us alone already!! Of course, those were just extra annoyances, our big issue was the animal treatment though. We left at intermission due to the weather and Sophia was good with that, but I can tell you this: as an animal lover I will never attend another circus by these people. I`d rather stick with the "crappy circus" that we call them where the seats are uncomfortable and the performances are boring, but the animals are happy and treated well. Sophia loves them all just the same, but if I`m going to be supporting any of them it`s going to be the ones who love their animals and treat them right. I`m not one of those crazy " I won`t eat meat blah blah blah" people, but I am one who hates animal abuse, especially when the animal gives you no reason to use harm against it. I know I`m beginning to ramble on at this point, but it`s just stuck in my mind how sad this was.
A circus is supposed to be a happy place - not partly happy, just all around happy. So if you were considering this circus, think again.