June, 1999


A few weeks ago the Press ran three days of front page coverage for the
Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus. Although dressed up as news stories,
they were in fact only advertisements. Think of it like this: If the Press
ran stories on a car that, like the circus stories, were "fluff," and
designed to make you want to purchase that car, wouldn't there be an
outcry? Yet what is the difference with the circus articles? Here you had
a newspaper giving unheard of news space to a private business, which had
the effect of filling the pockets of that business with cash. This has not
only blurred the line separating journalism from profit making but it has,
in fact, wiped it out completely.

While the Press was printing their cotton candy articles about Clyde
Beatty, the "Tennessean" a Nashville TN newspaper was doing some real
reporting about Clyde Beatty. In an article dated Aug. 14, 1998, the paper reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating the Clyde Beatty Circus. Ron DeHaven, an acting deputy administrator of the USDA, stated, "You can characterize them as serious charges."

The article also included an eyewitness account of abuse at Clyde Beatty.
"When he stuck them with the hook, they literally wailed out in pain," a
woman said, referring to a Clyde Beatty trainer hitting an elephant.

"Serious charges", yet not one word of this fell anywhere in the Press.
Why? Does the Tennessean have some reporting skills that the Press
doesn't, or perhaps this is what happens when a paper that should be
reporting the news instead creates it with a circus that it just happens to
be sponsoring. I say shame on the Press for this, but even more shame lies
with the suffering of animals that has come from this.

The circus will tell us that the elephants enjoy themselves and are treated well. We should be embarrassed to hear such words come from the mouths of grown men, for if the elephants were truly happy they would not be chainedand have bullwhips against their throats. No, these are the weapons of the oppressor, and the oppressed, the elephants, are their victims. We do dishonor to ourselves when we see the plight of these animals and look away, calling it "family entertainment."

Last year, when Clyde Beatty was at Belmar, I was there, and bore witness
for the elephants. I saw one struggling with his chains, pulling his leg
to the farthest point the manacles would allow. What horror is it to be a
circus elephant, I thought, as I saw the futility of his action. He knows
he cannot break the chains, but something inside makes him try anyway. That something we all have, the need to be free.

We are a country that was founded on the ideals of liberty and freedom,
yet when we view the slavery of animals we cheer and laugh. That great
foundation should break to pieces and drown with bitter tears at the sight
of what is being done to these animals. Elephants, and all the animals used
in circuses, are living beings who feel, love, and suffer. Chains around
necks and harsh beatings breaks hearts that beat under gray skin, just as
it would do to ours.

It is for that elephant in the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus that I
write this, for it is he and his companions that are the true victims here.
It is their pain that has been swallowed and covered under the rage and
darkness of the circus tent. It is their freedom, that has been stolen and held captive by tight iron.

I implore you to see what is truly happening to them, for ignorance is the
blindfold by which cruel deeds are hidden, and only the human heart has
the power to tear it off.

For compassion, for freedom, for love of life and the honor of defending
the oppressed, please, do not support circuses that enslave animals.