Courtesy - Kristina Snyder NHARL

Apr 21, 2017 12:53 PM

NH animal activist: The end of Ringling Bros. may not end circus performances for big cats

MANCHESTER — After 144 years the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus will have its final curtain call. The "Greatest Show on Earth" announced in February that this would be the traveling circus' last season.

READ: The "Greatest Show on Earth" set to close its tent

The circus will perform for the last time in Manchester at the SNHU Arena this weekend. And while the big cats will be inside, protesters will be outside.

But why? They won, right? The circus is closing.

Not really, according to Christina Snyder with the New Hampshire Animal Rights League. She says, their group and other animal advocacy groups believe these big cats will be sold into smaller circuses with less overhead. They will still perform and still live in small cages.

According to a Columbus Dispatch article, Alexander Lacey, the head trainer, plans to take his big cats to Germany to be with his brother, another animal trainer and breeder.

Something, Snyder says isn't fair to these big cats. "We're hoping the Ringling Management would consider a sanctuary for these animals but what we've found out is a lot of the tigers are contracted under the trainer, and he plans on bringing them back to his home country and finding other avenues for them to keep performing."

Snyder says these cats have been entertainment for humans since birth and enough is enough. According to the NHARL, these cats, although not suitable to live in the wild because they have been trained and handled by humans their whole lives, could find a much better life at an accredited sanctuary right here in the U.S.

Snyder credits the tightening of animal cruelty laws as well as changing public opinion for the reason the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus is closing. The Circus has said high operating costs and the loss of the elephants are among the reason they could not survive. Snyder calls it "compassion awareness evolving" - as more and more people understood the practices of circus, the less they felt the need to go and see these animals.

"This isn't right," Snyder says. "To have an elephant standing on its back legs with people on its back and thousands of people flashing photos and music blaring. It's just not right"

Snyder admits the NHARL's contact with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus is limited. She says she doesn't know how many cats Alexander Lacey actually owns and what will happen to the other cats that aren't his.

But, she clarifies, "Whoever owns the animals, we want to make the statement: This is closing. The ride is over. Let the animals go to sanctuary. Find another way to make a living."

For many circus employees, they will have to. But the animals may not have a chance to move on.

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