By: Breanna M. Flores
November 19th, 2015
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Endangered Species”?
Surely, one would think “Ahh yes, Our Nation’s Bird the Bald Eagle.”
I have talked to many who do not know just how many Endangered Species there are in our world today. Sadly, On May 20th & 21st, 2015 some of those animals were made to perform yet again; under the roof of a building owned by the North Iowa Events Center.
Let me begin with what’s going on in our Country as a movement, as well as around the world. First off two big name Circuses: “Barnum & Bailey” and “The Ringling Bros.”, announced at the beginning of 2015 that they are phasing out Elephant acts by 2018. They realize there is just not a need for it anymore. They are not the only ones. Mexico City already made the Ban on Wild Animal Circuses in June of 2014. The following cities are only a FEW who have done the same in the United States: Huntington Beach, California, Santa Ana, California, Los Angeles, California, Fulton County, Georgia, Margate, Florida, Dane County, Wisconsin and Dallas, Texas.
When it comes to the North Iowa Events Center, I am referencing to the “George Carden Circus” that was presented as “The Shrine Circus”; with Shriners promising to donate 2%, of every $18.00 Adult Admission sold, to their children’s hospitals. 2%. Look at what is done to Elephants, Tigers, Camels, etc. at the hands of raising pennies for charity. Why do we as a society allow this to happen? There are LESS THAN 2,000 tigers, 40,000 Asian Elephants, and between 400,000-750,000 African Elephants left in the wild. THE WILD. Where they belong! Yet, our society claims it as a norm for tigers and elephants to perform daily, be hurt with bull hooks and whips, and be kept in inhumane conditions.
I, Breanna Mae Flores, and some local interested participants gathered at the front entrance and handed out information about what REALLY goes on behind-the-scenes at a circus. Phillip Sanchez (of Mason City, who was very active in my movement) and I spoke at the North Iowa Events Center Board Meeting that night (May 20th, 2015) and were met with comments being thrown around the table about how we should “just go away” as they laughed. It was a different story once I got up to speak. The room became quiet and heads bowed down. I guess they did not realize I had been listening to their quite loud conversation. I made it known that I had contacted and provided the same information (petition signatures and comments from the 2014 Shrine Circus Ban, a letter written by myself, and 5 photographs showing evidence of scars and wounds on a camel and elephants) to The George Carden Circus, The North Iowa Shrine Club, and The Mason City Council as well as them, The North Iowa Events Center.
I AM CALLING OUT THE MASON CITY COUNCIL, THE NORTH IOWA EVENTS CENTER, AND THE NORTH IOWA SHRINE CLUB FOR BEING INFORMED OF THE IMPROPER TREATMENT OF ENDANGERED SPECIES, WHILE BEING AWARE OF THIS, AND ALLOWING IT TO OCCUR ANYWAY. MY PHONE NUMBER IS 641-430-7887 AND I HAVE JUST BEEN WAITING TO HEAR FROM YOU.
I also made it known, that although I now live in Sioux Falls, SD, I will find a way for this cause to continue. There is no need for the animals to perform in the Circus. What is wrong with simply just having a fundraiser to raise money for the children’s hospital? There are TONS of ideas that do not involve the exploitation of beautiful exotic animals.
Last year, 117 North Iowans signed my petition (over 700 total) to Ban the Shrine Circus from coming to Mason City or any other vendor in North Iowa. In 2015, I’ve made my attention more focused on the animals. 90% of the show is done by human entertainers; being a direct audience member for evidence in 2014, I witnessed children’s liking to the human performers over the animal performances. Children were frightened and scared when the animals came out for their performances. This year, 166 North Iowans have signed my petition (692 total), allowing for the George Carden Circus to perform but no animals are permitted. You see the difference is that humans have something called a “voice” and can CHOOSE to perform in the circus if they’d like; animals do not…well atleast not to those who choose to ignore their souls.
Cities that were included in signing the petition include: Mason City, Clear Lake, Plymouth, Forest City, Osage, Cedar Falls, Hampton, Rockford, Marion, Birmingham, Rockwell, Eagle Grove, Garner, Corwith, Waterloo, Charles City, Rock Falls, Nora Springs, Ventura, Manly, Britt, Kensett, Ames, Belmond, Fertile, Clarion, Sheffield, Des Moines, Rowan, Ankeny, Hanlontown, Waverly, Burlington, and Boone. Southern Minnesota Cities also include: Montrose, Buffalo, Mankato, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Bemidji, Albert Lea, and Blooming Prarie.
As I have mentioned and made known to the city of Mason City and surrounding area (via KIMT, NorthIowaToday.com, Globe Gazette, surrounding North Iowa News Papers) that Elephants are prone to having an airborne disease called Tuberculosis. Just being in the vicinity of the elephants can put you at risk for contracting this lung diease. The elephants contract this disease over a period of time by living in inhumane conditions including but not limited to malnourishment, lack of vaccines, standing in their own fecal matter, and being in confined areas with other elephants.
Think of your bedroom. Now cut that in half. Now, cut it in half again. Pretty small space to live in right? That is what these circus Tigers and Elephants face EVERY SINGLE DAY. Some of the animals eventually undergo psychosis due to the strict confinements. These animals are not meant to be confined at all. Nothing is really meant to be confined at all or MADE to perform for profit. 2% of the regular adult admission is .36 cents that is donated to the Shriner’s Children’s hospitals. HOSPITALS, not just one. Where does the $17.64 go? I couldn’t tell you as I received absolutely no correspondence from the North Iowa Shrine Club. I wonder why?
What I do know is that only two months later, the North Iowa Events Center found it pertinent to put on ANOTHER circus show on July 16th, 2015 by “Carsen and Barnes.” It is not known at this time WHY the event was held, what admission was, if any donations were taken out of the admission, etc. This time there weren’t “FREE ADMISSION” tickets for children scattered around town. They were only here for one day and advertised shortly before. I found it very disrespectful after talking to the North Iowa Events Center Board. I do not find myself powerful, but I have a voice and I speak for all of us who stand up for animal rights! I find that having not even gotten a response from them was insulting. I am a 25-year-old woman who expects to be taken seriously. I do not spend hours of my time, my money, and my sanity on nothing. I do it for the greater good. I do it because OTHERS believe this is WRONG too! I do not shove information in people’s faces, but it doesn’t take much to listen or read; something that seems to be hard to do for some today.
I received a Facebook Message from Lacey Brown, who told me about her personal experience with this particular circus (George Carden) and why her family will never go again.
“I haven’t been to a circus since I was young, and when you’re a kid, you just don’t notice things the same way an adult would. As I got older, I heard and read terrible stories of circus animal abuse, so I never had any interest in taking my family. Until about 2 years ago (George Carden Circus in Mason City, IA 2014), my mom, my 3yr old son, and I went to the circus here in town. I was hesitant, but against my better judgment, we went anyway.
We were in the front row, by the entrance, so we got to see all the animals coming in. And when they came into the building, they would stop and wait until it was their turn to perform. So of course while they were standing there, we got a real close up look. So close, we could have touched them. What I noticed more than the animals themselves, was the pain and sadness in their eyes. It was so overwhelming, I swear, I could feel it in my soul. These animals were so extremely sad and miserable. It was most noticeable in the elephants and camels.
And I didn’t even mention all the many, many clearly noticeable scars on the elephants. Scars that looked like they were made by a small sharp object that tore the skin open. And then watching them perform…imagining how many times they have to train and all the repetition they must go through. Thinking about all of this, while watching the trainers in the ring with them and right at their hips they have their hooked rods ready to strike to keep the animals in line and performing correctly for all the families.
After awhile, it was time for the tigers to perform. They were on our side of the room, but on the opposite end. I believe there were supposed to be 5 or 6 total tigers, but there was one in particular tiger that did not want to come out of the cage to perform. So the trainer, in front of all of us, was trying everything he could to get the tiger out. I clearly saw him using the handle end of a broom and jabbing at the tigers through the cage holes (the cage was a chain link fence.) The tiger never did come out and eventually, the trainer stopped trying. Sure, it doesn’t sound THAT bad, but A.) we don’t know how hard he was jabbing and B.) we don’t know what kind of punishment that poor tiger got after the show was over.
Fortunately, my son was too young to notice anything negative about the show, but my mother and I were almost in tears that we allowed ourselves to be a part of this “family fun.” Even writing this, I am fighting my tears. I am so disgusted I took my son. I will NEVER involve my family in this cruelty that everybody else turns their backs to. The abuse is there. They don’t train these wild animals with hugs and kisses. People just need to wake up and open their eyes and educate themselves.”
-Lacey Brown of Mason City, IA (October 12th, 2015)
So, I would like to pose a few questions to the North Iowa Events Center Board. How much money does the Events Center make to host this event? How much money would the Events Center lose if they were to ban these cruel animal acts? And what is the personal stake for EVERY STANDING MEMBER to bring the circus to this town?
Here are some comments from other North Iowans:
“I believe wild animals should not be subjected to the conditions of circus life. Regular transport, cramped and bare temporary housing, forced training and performances, loud noises and crowds of people are all typical and often unavoidable realities for the animals. Performing inappropriate tricks in the name of entertainment also does nothing to foster respect for animals.”
-Julie Perrott (Mason City, IA) 05/10/15
“There should be 3rd party inspectors checking out the animals and circus procedures @ each performance where ever they perform. It is definitely not acceptable if the animals have wounds intentional or unintentional that are not being cared for. They need to be under care of someone licensed to treat them.”
-Sue Hill (Clear Lake, IA) 05/12/15
“Animals should not be treated the way many of these circus animals are treated. It shows a great lack of compassion and humanity.”
-Tom Pauley (Forest City, IA) 05/12/15
“Anyone who uses a bull hook as punishment towards any animal and believes they are creating a relationship with these animals is ignorant. Operant conditioning should be the only way animals are trained and the training for the sole purpose of human entertainment and profit is disgusting.”
-Nicole Nuddleman (Mason City, IA)
If you would like to become part of my movement to Ban the Shrine Circus from North Iowa please look up “Peaceful Protest to Ban the Shrine Circus from North Iowa” (with 233 members) on Facebook and ask to join! Overall, there was A LOT more support this year than in 2014, so I am hoping for the same next year. I found a quote that was astonishing, “Let’s teach our children and our children’s children that “E” stands for Elephant, not Extinction.”
The scars mentioned in some of the comments are lacerations on the skin caused by whips and a device called a “Bull Hook”. Anyone who has been to these circuses can easily see the whitish colored scarring on the elephants. The marks are formed by deep bleeding cuts that are plastered over with a substance known by the industry as “Wonder Powder.” “Wonder Powder” is used to instantly cover bleeding and open-wounds via white powder as to not alarm or frighten children in the audience. My fiance and I witnessed this and have photo evidence of this and these wounds on EVERY SINGLE ELEPHANT from the circus event held in 2014.
When I asked Lacey Brown, of Mason City, what she thought Mason City and North Iowa should do about this problem, she replied:
“Well, ultimately, I would love to see ALL circuses shut down and have all the animals released into a special sanctuary. So I guess I would say for Mason City to just say “NO” next time. Maybe donate some money to a Sanctuary? Make education material available to people to learn about circuses and everything that happens behind the scenes.”