On Tuesday evening my husband and I, along with my in-laws, went to the Shrine Circus. I was so excited. I went to the circus once when I was younger and loved it, and since I'm totally a kid at heart, I just assumed it would be just as fun and exciting!
I was so, so wrong!
The doors opened early and we raced inside. We just had to be the first in line for the elephant ride. I wasn't in the building a mere 3 minutes when I started feeling an anxiety attack coming on. The site of that poor elephant was all I could concentrate on. It was as if the only people in the entire arena were myself, that elephant and the elephants trainer. My mind was racing with horrible images of the life that poor animal must lead. I read an article years ago about the treatment of circus animals and until that exact moment I had forgotten all about it.
The longer I stood there watching that poor elephant make his way around the circle carrying loads of people on his back, the more my anxiety started to take over.
My mind kept racing back to that article and the images of circus elephants that were beaten, hit, poked, prodded and jabbed with sharp hooks. It was ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT!
I can sometimes over-analyze things and that is exactly what my husband told me I was doing. I finally decided it was in my best interest to exit the arena and I spent most of the pre-show in the hallway.
The lights finally dimmed and we took our seats anxiously waiting for the show to start.
The first act was the lions and tigers. I immediately felt my anxiety level lesson because I have a serious love for tigers. I actually felt my excitement starting to return. Sadly though, it was short lived. As the animals entered the cage and got into position, I happen to notice a woman standing in the darkness on the outside of the cage. She was hard to see because the spotlights in the cage area were so bright, but we were seated on the ground level right in front and had a perfect view of her. Throughout the act, she continuously kept prodding one of the lions with some sort of long device. The lion was very unhappy about this and you could tell by his demeanor that he was getting more and more angry. Throughout the act, this particular animal refused to "do his part". He did not participate in jumping the hurdles, he did not jump through the ring of fire, and he did not like the trainer being anywhere near him. Every time the trainer would be within an arms length, this particular lion would reach out and claw at him. As a result, he would be prodded from behind and whipped by the trainer.
To put it nicely, I was about to lose my shit!!! I turned to my husband and told him I was leaving....NOW! I tried to explain to my husband that tigers don't just jump through rings of fire. They don't just do these tricks because they want to. They do them because they're afraid of what will happen if they don't. And as he watched that lion being prodded through most of the act, he began to understand what was making me feel this way. He did his best to reassure me that those animals would be okay, but this animal loving woman just wasn't having it.
I decided to stay for the remainder of the show, but it wasn't easy. The entire show I had images swirling around in my head of these animals being confined to cramped and filthy cages. The amount of time spent traveling and being continuously chained up. Having to travel in cages that barely provide room for the animal to turn around. Those images from that article years ago of the bloody elephants that were jabbed with sharp hooks. The bears that are whacked and prodded with long poles to get them to ride bicycles, balance on balls, and get their picture taken with overly excited children.
I know I probably over-reacted and I know my mind does crazy things when I am in the middle of an anxiety episode, so I apologize. I can say that other than my anxiety over the mistreatment of the animals, I had a good time. The trapeze artists, the jugglers, the clowns and acrobats were very enjoyable.
And to be honest...by the last act (which coincidentally, was elephants) I was much more calm, my breathing was more regular and my heart was no longer beating out of my chest. I found that if I concentrated more on taking pictures and only watching the show through the lens of my iPhone, that my anxiety level seemed to remain at an acceptable level. Maybe this was my way of tricking my brain into believing I was merely watching something on television. That it was more fictional than reality. Who knows...the mind is a crazy, crazy thing.
* I apologize if this post offends anyone. My feelings are MY OWN and I would never want to influence the thoughts of anyone else.
** I do not have any "facts" to support the mistreatment of circus animals. My feelings are simply a result of an over-active mind and an article I read years ago
*** All pictures are my own...taken with my iPhone
10 hours ago