On July 9, activists Rebecca Kowalewsky and Dayna Patik, with the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere, disrupted a performance at Circus World in Baraboo over the circus’ use of animal performance acts performed under cruel conditions.
As the show proceeded, the activists stepped in front of the circus ring and chanted "it's not entertainment, it's exploitation.”
“Circuses are on their way out because of their horrific violence against animals, but Circus World clings to the same old standards of hurting animals for human pleasure,” said Kowalewsky.
Animal performances in circuses have become increasingly taboo, according to Direct Action Everywhere, with famed Ringling and Barnum & Bailey closing earlier this year. More recently, the New York City Council voted to ban wild animal circus performances.
The advocates say that the way animals are treated in circuses like Circus World is representative of discrimination against animals throughout society. Pointing to a recent Gallup poll finding that 32% of Americans support equal rights for animals to be free from harm and exploitation and another poll indicating that 79% of Americans believe that “animals should be protected from all suffering and harm caused by humans,” activists argue that exploiting animals goes against Americans’ deepest values. Activists term violence against animals as “speciesism,” a form of discrimination against animals simply because they are not human.
“What Circus World does to animals is violence and speciesism, that is discrimination based on those animals being born into the wrong body,” said Patik. “This is unacceptable and must stop.”