News & Opinion
In the first half of February, two animals used for entertainment attacked their abusers – a bull used in Spanish bullfight and a lion used in an Egyptian circus. Given that many videos of similar attacks have gone viral, why do people still participate in bullfights, circus acts and other exploitive events? Do the thrills and profits really outweigh the grave risks? And is the public supposed to sympathize with the animal abusers when they become the victims?
BULL GORES MAN: On February 14th, a 20-year old man from Georgia was severely gored during a running of the bulls and bullfight festival in a small town near Salamanca, Spain. The 16 inch gash to his thigh was the worst the local doctor had ever seen.
During these festivals, which take place in villages across Spain, bulls run through the streets until they arrive at the local arena, where they are killed in bullfights. The fact that event organizers have medical units on hand to treat injured (human) participants should be reason alone to outlaw these medieval competitions.
LION POUNCES TRAINER: On February 6th, a lion pounced on his trainer during a circus performance in Egypt. The victims’s late husband, who was also a trainer, was killed by a lion in 2004.
How many more people have to be gored, pounced, maimed and killed by captive animals before government regulators and elected officials ban these barbaric events?
In the United States, three high profile animal attacks involving an elephant, tiger and orca have shined an international spotlight on the use of captive wild animals in entertainment.
1. In 1994, a 20 year old circus elephant named Tyke killed his trainer during a performance and injured 13 others as he bolted out of the arena and through the streets of Honolulu, Hawaii. Tyke was shot almost 100 times before dying. The tragic incident was caught on video – from start to finish.
2. Siegfried & Roy, performers who used white lions and tigers in their Las Vegas show, had the most popular act in town from 1990 to 2003, when a white tiger bit Roy on the neck, severely injuring him and permanently shutting down their show.
3. Tilikum, the world’s largest captive killer whale, has killed three people, including Dawn Brancheau, a senior trainer at SeaWorld. Blackfish, a film that documents the Brancheau attack and its aftermath, has made Tilikum an international symbol of animals held captive for entertainment.