Should wild animals perform in circus shows?


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In 2010, Dawn Brancheau, a Seaworld trainer, died after an attack from Tilikum, an orca whale at Seaworld and one of the San Diego park’s main attractions. The documentary Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum and his long-term trainer Brancheau, and the psychological trauma and stress the whales in the water park endure while in captivity. Blackfish also describes Tilikum’s journey to Seaworld, and how the multi-billion dollar animal park industry runs despite pressure from animal rights groups to shut down. Brancheau, who had 17 years of experience, was feeding Tilikum and having bonding time with him when Tilikum suddenly dragged her into the water and violently tossed her around. Brancheau ultimately drowned and died from horrible injuries.

Death at Seaworld author David Kirby told CNN that Seaworld blamed the trainer for her death. Following her death, the amusement park company insisted that Brancheau shouldn’t have put herself in such a dangerous position and allowed her ponytail to come close to Tilikum’s mouth, which prompted him to drag her into the water. 

After four Seaworld employees said that the trainer completely followed protocol, Kirby concluded that the trainer’s death was not her fault. The reason for the attack was due to the whale’s stress from being held in captivity.

“I’ve spoken to scientists who tell me that they believe there are signs these animals are stressed out…in the wild we don’t get up close with killer whales, it only happens at Seaworld,” he said. Normally, killer whales in the wild do not attack humans, only when they’re away from their homes, families, and friends, have there been incidents. 


While Kirby and the consulted scientists believe animals should not perform in animal entertainment  shows, English circus trainer, Thomas Chipperfield, believes otherwise. Chopperfield runs a show called “”An Evening with Lions and Tigers,” where he trains animals to perform tricks in front of a live audience. The professional believes that because the animals have regular health checks and are properly trained, there is no issue with them performing in circus shows.  

“I’ve never been worried working with my animals, I’ve always respected what they are and remembered what they are when working with them, and I don’t force them into performing actions they’re not comfortable doing, that’s not the way I work with my animals. The way I introduce them to new actions is on a gradual basis,” Chipperfield said.

He also claims that the general public approves of the entertainment form (despite what the polls say), because otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to do what he does. As long as the animals are well cared for, there is no issue with using animals as entertainment value, he said. 

Below are a few pros and cons of having animals perform in circus shows:


  • Animals provide entertainment/amusement
  • They can be used as animal education
  • Animals are kept safe/ healthy with regimented food and medication that they

wouldn’t get in the wild. 

  • Anyone could have access to an exhibit, which could connect people to animals, and serve as educational lessons about animals


  • Animals are forced to do the tricks that do not come naturally and are the result of endless hours of training and sometimes abuse
  • They’re kept in cages, or (shallow tanks) while circuses travel
  • Animals are taken away from their families and become lonely and sad
  • Animals sometimes suffer from abuse (some trainers whip and beat animals)
  • Not much is learned by watching animals perform tricks that they’ve been taught by trainers, the best way to learn about animals is to see them in their natural habitat
  • The acts could be a public safety hazard because the animals are unpredictable and often become violent or aggressive towards people as they experience such harsh conditions. People could get hurt
  • They live in close confinement and have restricted movement, which restricts

natural behaviors and leads to animals living with other creatures they shouldn’t be exposed to. This could be dangerous for the animals who aren’t used to certain predators. 

Animal entertainment shows have long been part of our entertainment. It’s not only the spectators who benefit from these shows. The ticket profits can also help the economy as sales bring visitors to a city. Park owners also benefit by making more than enough to support themselves and their business. Now, there aren’t as many animal circus acts in the world, because animal rights protestors and groups have worked hard to protect the animals from being abused. Peta is the largest animal rights group in the world and they urge everyone not to purchase Seaworld tickets, visit the parks, or support it in any way. Peta protesters claim that captivity (whether at Seaworld or in a circus act) “kills these animals, and they deserve to be safely returned to their home while still benefiting from humans’ care for as long as they might need to.” 

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High Wire Artists Cross Zimbabwe’s Famous Victoria Falls

It’s not surprising that this kind of crossing, took two years to prepare for. Two high wire artists have successfully made it across the Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border after two years spent in training. Student Lukas Irmler, 26, from Germany, and 34-year-old journalist Reinhard Kleindl from Austria, used a wobbling slackline slung across the face of the spectacular falls, known locally as ”the smoke that thunders”. They made the 100 meter long crossing on a slackline with only a safety line for support. They are the first people ever to cross the gorge walking upright.

Slacklining differs to tightrope walking in that the line is not held rigidly taut. Instead it can stretch and bounce and act rather like a long and narrow trampoline. Those who take part in slacklining are often called slackers. The falls, a UNESCO world heritage site, can carry more than 500 million cubic meters of water during the rainy season. The drop from the slack line to the canyon below is around a hundred meters. What makes the stunt all the more surprising then, is that for these daredevils this is just an extreme hobby. Irmler is an Economic Science student and his companion spends most of his time as a journalist and writer. AP7408070261_203612 Forty years ago, in 1974, New York awoke to find Philippe Petit walking on a high wire suspended between the 110-story Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Petit left a crowd of thousands breathless but was arrested by the police when he finally stepped off the wire. But as the realisation of what he had managed began to sink in, there was also an understanding that there was no way he could be punished. All charges were dismissed in exchange for a performance in Central Park for children. The ‘artistic crime of the century’, as Petit described it, was the subject of the outstanding 2008 documentary Man on Wire, directed by James Marsh. GET IT 2 Answer the following questions to make sure you understood the article – 1. How long did it take for Lukas and Reinhard to prepare for crossing Victoria Falls? 2. How did Lukas and Reinhard make the 100 meter long crossing of the gorge? 3. Has anyone ever crossed the gorge walking upright? 4. How does slacklining differ to tightrope walking? 5. How high is the drop from the slack line to the canyon below? 6. What makes the stunt even more surprising? 7. How did Philippe Petit walk from one twin tower of the World Trade Center to the other? 8. What happened after he stepped off the wire? 9. Was he put in prison? 10. Write your answer in a comment below – why do you think he did it? ANSWERS ottawa fnt