Posts Tagged With: circus

When Cats and Dogs Aren’t Enough


This is Little Mo. She was just a few months old when poachers killed her mother and stole her from the wild. These ruthless wildlife traffickers wanted Born Free Foundationto sell the cheetah cub as a ‘pet’ in Somaliland, East Africa.

Mo is one of millions of countless big cats, and other endangered animals who are part of the exotic pet trade.

US Exotic Pets

The illegal trade is a $15 billion dollar business in the United States alone, with breeders and dealers selling animals over the Internet or in trade magazines. It is estimated that approximately 20,000 exotics live in “backyards” all across the US.

While some exotic pets have been bred in captivity, many are plucked directly from their natural habitats. The stress of being violently removed from their homes causes some animals to die before they ever reach a private residence.

pet tiger

Amazingly, the Endangered Species Act does not prohibit domestic trade in captive-bred wildlife. A grave oversight, considering that although tigers are endangered, more tigers reside in private residences in Texas, than in all the wild.

People purchasing these animals believe them to be cute and manageable until of course they grow, their wild instincts still intact, and become uncontrollable.  In 2013, there have been 1,969 incidents (anything from quarantine violations to deaths of animals and/or people) in the US alone.

Middle Eastern Trend

Of course this is not just problematic in the US. Big cat pets in the Gulf region is a growing trend. It is seen as a status symbol. Yemen is becoming the hub for this lucrative trade in the Arabian world. Although the numbers are not available, it is believed this is the reason for the dent in the wild cheetah populations in Somalia.

man riding lion

Several clips have surfaced on the Internet showing the absurdity and ignorance of owning these big cats; i.e. a  riding a lion and a group of men with a leashed cheetah.

Worldwide Smuggling

Authorities around the world suspect they’re intercepting under 10% of all wildlife smuggling, with many saying it’s actually only 1%.

african greys rescused

3 of 108 African Grays released into the wild after a failed smuggling attempt in Bulgaria.

The vast size of most wilderness areas and the limited number of enforcement officers virtually guarantee poachers and smugglers free access. The only way to get a definite conviction is to catch them in the act.


11 otters found alive in unclaimed baggage in Bangkok.

Although smuggling of endangered species is an international violation of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), the penalties are stipulated by individual countries and vary greatly. CITES protection does not apply to exotic animals who are born in captivity.

Root of the Problem

As with rhino and elephant poaching, the root of the issue is to stop the demand. So it is with exotic pet ownership.

*Do not purchase endangered species.

*Do not patronize circuses and roadside zoos who use or showcase exotic animals.

Please read and sign the petition to : Ban exotic pet ownership in the US

Born Free FoundationWhat happened to Mo the cheetah?

She was rescued by the Born Free Foundation. She’s living the good life, with a spacious area and her medical and nutritional needs cared for.

After slowly introducing her to other cheetahs, she is happily living as part of a new family unit.

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

No Life for Elephants

DSCN1743I attended my first circus protest recently.

The wind blew hard, it was chilly, my hands hurt from clutching the sign so hard. Twice I dropped my pamphlets and hurried to collect them before they blew away. Armed with kid-friendly stickers and in constant motion, I tried to make myself available to anyone who made eye contact.

I wanted to beg them not to go, don’t buy tickets, don’t support the cruelty. I wanted to say “If you get a ticket, you might as well get a bullhook too and take your turn beating the elephants” I wanted to tell the kids the circus is mean to the animals.

But I didn’t. I killed them with kindness instead. I nodded, smiled, and handed out coloring books and flyers.

A few thanked me. Some avoided me like I was the threat, one man shook his head.

But the funny thing was-all the kids approached me-or tried to, until some of the parents pulled them away. They were sponges, ready to absorb, wanting to learn, returning my smile with theirs.

Shame on the parents for hiding the truth, for keeping them in the dark about the realities of man’s cruelty! Why can’t they say “No honey, we’re not going to the circus because the animals at the circus are sad, and they don’t want to be there”?

The most prophetic moment of the day; a little boy with glasses and a red jacket took a coloring book, scrunched his nose at me and asked “Is the circus almost done?”

I said “Yes buddy, it almost is.”

elephants at van andel

circus protest pic

Categories: Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

The Greatest Hoax on Earth

Circus elephants in the 1800s.

Circus elephants in the 1800s.

elephant circus modern

Circus elephants modern day.

A lot has changed in 200 years. We have been through two world wars, slavery was abolished, women are allowed to vote, the animal welfare act was enacted, and now there is a recognition of gay rights. Yet the circus and circus practice remains unchanged. The commonality in the above photos-dominating people with bullhooks in hand. Bullhooks are tools used to punish and control elephants.

FACT: Elephants are extremely intelligent and social creatures. In the wild, they live in families, roaming up to 25 miles per day. They do not stand on their heads, carry people around, walk in endless circles or ride in boxcars. In order to get them to do these things, they are forced by being beaten, chained whipped and tortured into submission.

*FACT: Animals in the circus spend 11 months a year traveling.

*FACT: They are caged or chained, forced to stand in their own waste and are often subjected to extreme temperatures.

*FACT: Every major circus that uses animals has been cited for violating the minimal standards of care set forth in the United States Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

The following video was made based on information from the RIngling Bros Circus trainers. Please watch: Training/Breaking a baby elephant for the circus

If you buy a ticket...

If you buy a ticket…

How You Can Help

The circus only exists because people pay money to go. Don’t go, and educate and encourage others not to. It’s really THAT easy!

There are websites devoted to helping animals that can help you protest and educate others to the realities of circus life for animals. Go to Peta or ADI (Animal Defenders International)

Start petitions, sign petitions. When the circus comes to your area, write to the venue that will be hosting them and ask them not to.

Michael Cotterman

You are supporting this!

Please sign and share the following: Stop Ringling Bros from coming to Grand Rapids Michigan!

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Shirley & Jenny

This is the story of a touching elephant reunion. It’s not a new story, but worth retelling. After a life of hardship, Shirley, an old gentle soul, gets a happy ending. She has finally found peace and companionship with Jenny, a friend from her past.

Watch here:

Shirley Part 1

Shirley & Jenny Part 2

Old friends

Old friends


Categories: Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Shooting Fish in a Barrel

So proud of himself!

So proud of himself!

Nothing says “home” quite like a dead rhino head mounted on the wall, or a lovely bear hide under your feet. You too can redecorate to your liking. For $2,000 you can shoot a zebra, or for $20,000 a lion. Cost isn’t an issue? Well then for $40,000 how about an elephant?

The trophy hunting industry is alive and well in Africa. But with today’s modern hunters, if price is not an issue, neither is convenience. That’s where “canned hunts” or “captive hunts” come in. Shooters pay enormous fees for the guaranteed kill of an animal, some of them endangered species.

Although canned hunts are advertised as rugged, outdoor adventures, in reality they are conducted in an atmosphere of comfort and convenience. The area is usually a fenced enclosure from which there is no escape, ranging from a few square yards to several hundred acres, depending on how “strenuous” you want your hunt to be.

The animals are either bred by the private land owner just for this purpose or are purchased as “retired” zoo or circus animals. They are all accustomed to people.  Whether someone drives up in a jeep to feed them or shoot them, they know no different and have no fear of humans. At times a rhino or elephant have had to be woken up in order to be shot!

A family vacation for most involves baseball games, museums, amusement parks, or camping. But apparantly the for the elite it means shooting endangered animals.

A family vacation for most involves baseball games, museums, amusement parks, or camping. But apparently the for the elite it means shooting endangered animals.

The essentials are always the same regardless of the cost of the trip: an animal who is either fenced in, lured to feeding stations, or habituate to humans, and odds so heavily in the hunter’s favor that there is little risk of leaving without a trophy. Most canned hunts even have taxidermists on site or on call to mount the trophy (a.k.a the animal whose fate was sealed the moment you called for a reservation.)

The United States is the largest importer of exotic and endangered animals from Africa. The trophy hunting industry from Africa alone brings in $91 billion annually based on a study by the Professional Hunters Association of S.A.

This man didn't even have to leave the jeep to shoot this unforuntate lion.

This man didn’t even have to leave the jeep to shoot this unforuntate lion.

As if it weren’t bad enough, the U.S has its own hand in the business. The Humane Society of the United States estimates there are over a thousand captive hunts in America, operating in at least 28 states, most commonly in Texas. There are however no federal laws governing canned hunts in America nor does the Animal Welfare Act regulate game preserves or canned hunts. The Endangered Species Act actually ALLOWS the hunting of endangered animals with the appropriate permit!

Canned hunts are brutal and one-sided. They are a mockery to hunters who abide by the “fair chase” regulations and ideals; and they are a shameful “luxury” our endangered species cannot afford.

troph hunt lions

This is a ranch where lions are bred to be killed.

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Blog at