March 5, 2015 by genelup
The animal-rights’ wackos gained victory today by putting elephants out of work and sending them to pasture. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus said today it will phase out the show’s 13 iconic elephants from its performances by 2018.
Last year, Feld Entertainment (owners of Ringling etc.) won $25.2 million in settlements from a number of animal-rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, ending a 14-year legal battle over unproven allegations that Ringling circus employees mistreated elephants.
This bothers me. Years ago I interviewed Eddie the elephant when Ringling came to town. Eddie didn’t complain to me that he or the other long-nosed pachyderms were ever mistreated. They loved to perform and thrill children and adults alike. I know Eddie will be sad. This is my interview him:
“Eddie has carried more than his share of weight in the circus for some 25 years — a real workhorse, so to speak.
“It is only logical to talk to him to get the real scoop of what the year’s Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is all about.
“We find Eddie in the animal barn, just a few hours before the opening show.
REPORTER: Let’s get the most important questions out of the way first, Eddie. Is it true elephants are afraid of mice?
EDDIE: Nonsense! I weigh nearly 7 tons and a mouse can’t possibly scare me. But I’ll let you in on a secret: the two pythons in the circus really give me the willies. At least they only appear a few minutes, wrapped around two women during the fanfare. I keep my distance.
REPORTER: Is this the year famed animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams will be here?
EDDIE: No, he’s with the red unit of the circus, and we are the blue. He’s very good, but we’ve got some terrific animal acts ourselves. Out trainer, Axel Gautier, for instance, has taught us elephants to stand on our two back legs and walk backward. Hey, that’s a real crowd-pleaser. And our cat show is really different. Jerry Wegmann walks into a steel cage with lions, tigers, leopards, a puma and – get this – three St. Bernard dogs.
REPORTER: You mean lions and tigers and dogs, all in the same cage?
EDDIE: You got it. This year there is a real heavy emphasis on animal acts. We finally get our due. There also are camels, zebras, bears, horses and a baboon show that’s fantastic. One baboon actually jumps on a motorcycle and drives it around. I heard one bear ask the baboon to teach him hoe to drive a motorcycle.
REPORTER: You mean a baboon and a bear can actually talk to each other?
EDDIE: What’s so unusual about that? We’re talking, aren’t we?
REPORTER: Yes… You’re really hyped about the circus, aren’t you?
EDDIE: Why Not! I get tired of people thinking we aren’t as good as the red unit. In some ways, we’re even better. Do they have 16 Zulu warriors from South Africa doing war dances and blowing fire from their mouths? No!
Do they have Captain Christopher and Commander Weiss being shot from a double-barrel cannon? No!
Do they have the Tianjin Acrobatic Troupe from the People’s Republic of China performing the grueling Chinese Web act in a mass of twisted leather straps near the ceiling?
And how about the Flying Vazquez Trapeze troupe? Miguel Vazquez does the unparalleled quadruple somersault into the hands of his brother, Juan. And the men who sword fight and jump up and down on the high wire. And…
REPORTER: OK, I’m convinced. Now, what about the clowns?
EDDIE: I’m glad you asked. This is the 20th anniversary of Ringling Bros.’ Clown College, and the clown acts are big this year. They are reaching back into time and pulling out some of the best acts ever seen. Remember all the clowns piling out of the tiny Volkswagen, and the firehouse stunt with hoses, ladders, hydrants and fire, and the crew of would-be painters who slip and slide through paint?
REPORTER: Eddie, I know you can go on for hours talking about the circus. But, isn’t there anything that bugs you about it?
EDDIE: Well…I don’t know. Maybe! Yes! In the circus program there is this really fantastic write-up for the aerial acts: “Absolutely Awesome Acrobatic Action Amazingly Achieved at Astonishing Altitudes Approaching the Apex of the Arena as an Appropriately Admiring Audience Applauds the Assemblage of Ambidextrous Athletic Abracadabra.” All that alliteration! Isn’t that great? We elephants want equal billing, you know.
REPORTER: Don’t you believe that’s too much hype?
EDDIE: Who Cares! That’s part of the circus. Would you do me a favor?
EDDIE: Would you print in your book a lot of alliteration for the elephants’ act?
REPORTER: I don’t know. Well, I’ll try. How about: “Paramount Pack of Pert, Ponderous Pachyderms Parade Painlessly Performing Pleasantly Past People Passionately Propelling Praises Profusely?”
EDDIE: Well, that’s a start. Maybe there’s hope for you yet as a writer.”
(From my book, FISH CATCHES MAN, a collection of short stories. Read about the book on my website.)