I Wish I Lived in Oblivion

The tweets and blog posts have started. This weekend, the circus is in town. They even paraded the elephants through downtown Orlando as they made their way into Amway Center. And I know E. would have LOVED to have seen that.

She’d also love the circus. From the clowns to the acrobats to yes, the elephants, I know it would thrill her. I can remember going to Circus World when I was about her age, and I’ll never forget that magical moment when I rode an elephant. DadJovi also has sweet childhood memories of attending the circus with his parents.

So why would we deprive E. of this rite of childhood, something that has captured the imaginations of children in this country for more than 100 years?

Because we know too much.

Listen, I’m not interested in hearing from Ringling Brothers attorneys, so I’ll let you do your own Internet research. But I think we’ve all seen the horrific videos and photos of how elephants are treated in some circuses to know that it seems like a less than ideal existence for these amazing creatures.

And even though I was offered free tickets to the circus by a PR firm that I have (and hopefully still do!) a good relationship with, I just couldn’t take them. I don’t blame other bloggers, who I respect on many levels, for taking the tickets, either. The circus is an amazing family outing that will likely create wonderful memories for their families.

But when DadJovi and I discussed whether or not I should accept the tickets, we decided that for us, there was no putting Pandora back in box — now that we’ve seen the videos and photos, we can’t unsee them.

This is the same reason we have yet to return to SeaWorld since watching the Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove” a few years ago. It’s also why you’ll never see photos of us swimming with dolphins on vacation. I can’t unsee what I’ve seen.

And it sucks.

When we first moved to Orlando, we went to SeaWorld almost every weekend. And I loved it. Shhh, don’t tell Disney, but it really is my favorite park in town. And I know, I know. SeaWorld has done AMAZING things to help conserve and rescue wildlife. I know that, I really do.

Lately, I’ve been starting to waffle on this stance, which is probably due, in part, to the amazing deal they have this year that lets preschoolers into the park for FREE for the entire year. I really might cave on this position, as much as I’d like to stand strong.

When I start feeling weak, I just rewatch a clip from “The Cove.” If you haven’t seen it, you really should. It’s one of the most powerful movies — fiction or non-fiction — that I’ve ever seen. Haunting doesn’t even begin to start describing it.

And before you call me out for still going to Animal Kingdom, I hear you. I have very complicated feelings on zoos and other wildlife centers. On one hand, I completely understand the educational values of places like a zoo or Animal Kingdom. And I do think some of the world’s most endangered creatures would be in much worse shape without organizations like this, which frequently spend heavily to protect animals in their natural habitats, as well as in captivity.

But it still doesn’t make me feel any less sad when I see a magnificent gorilla like this staring back at me from its pen, even if it that pen is spacious and gorgeous.


I keep thinking that this must be what vegetarians feel like. It’s easy to take a stand on moral grounds; the tricky part is finding a way to keep standing, year after year. And the fact that we eat meat (although not as much as we used to) but won’t go to the circus or SeaWorld probably makes me a hypocrite of sorts. But that’s not a reason to not keep trying, right?

But yeah, it sucks. Damn you Internet for spilling all the world’s ugly secrets!

Has a movie or news story ever changed your mind about something you used to enjoy? What are your thoughts on zoos or animal performers?


  1. says

    The Cove definitely changed how I view places like Sea World. I listen to a lot of talk radio and the makers of the movie did many interviews and I found the whole thing just heartbreaking.

    I think it’s important to stand your ground when you know something is wrong. Movements are started when individuals take a stand. What if everyone who knew the horrors of animal treatment in places like the circus refused to attend? That could make a difference.

  2. says

    It doesn’t make you a hypocrite. You’re doing something. You don’t have to do everything. I struggle with feeling like this too because I eat fish but no other meats.

  3. says

    I just watched some of the videos on the circus and there is no way I could support that now. Who hits a baby elephant, or any animal for that matter? Just sickening. HOW does this go on? If I ever have a kid, they will NEVER go to the circus.

  4. says

    I used to love the circus. Now, I’m like you. I still love it, but I know too much. I’ve tried to transfer that love to Cirque du Soleil-ish performances, because it’s really the trapeze and the tightrope and the human parts of the circus that I love the best. But it’s not the same. There’s a big part of me that misses the circus.

  5. Chris says

    Absolutely with you – I can’t handle animals in captivity and struggle just as much with balancing that with the good conservation work some of them do. I won’t go to SeaWorld or circuses either, haven’t since college and became aware of this stuff.

    As for other movies, hubby and I cut way back on meat and eat organic as much as we can (always at home, not so much at restuarants, though we support ones when we can) after seeing food, inc. made a huge impact on us.

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