Day 39: 8/03/2013: Part 2: At the Circus

I decided not to have an emotionally charged pitch, but passed out flyers to incoming families saying “Free Information about the Circus.” Eric from PETA was even nicer. “Did you get one of these?” he’d ask with genuine warmth. “Thanks a lot. We’re asking people to make this their last visit to the circus.” He was a pro. No wailing guilt trips or useless harassment as I’ve seen from some so-called activists. Many people assume that “everyone” at a protest is from PETA or some other animal welfare organization. Not true.

In the late 1980s, During my early days at anti-veal and anti-vivisection protests, a random guy named Jingles would come all dressed in bells and baggy hippie-clown attire while the organizers from Last Chance for Animals would arrive in suits. ANYWAY, although I felt fairly robotic in comparison to Eric’s humanity, I learned that it was effective to just hand out the flyer without a preamble. Perhaps some people felt “tricked” into being handed a depressing image, but others seemed quite open.  I didn’t see a lot of these pamphlets littering the ground the way I do when Vegan Outreach comes to Glendale College and I scoop up the numberless images of factory farms blanketing the campus. Only one person at the circus handed the flyer back to me. This year, like last year, a couple of people who didn’t yet have tickets to the circus changed their minds after looking at the literature–probably the baby elephants being “trained” with ropes and bull hooks. One woman actually broke down. Continue reading

Day 39: 8/03/2013: Part 1 Elephant Sharks & Circus Elephants

This isn’t an elephant blog, it’s a shark blog. But I like that it sometimes meanders into interesting places—into the realms of other animals—pet shop fish, frogs, elephants and tigers. But before I talk about my annual summer circus protest, I will at least talk about the elephant shark because this oddball fish offers me an interesting transition to the circus in Part 2.

First, the elephant shark (also known as the “ghost shark”) lives in the waters of Australia and New Zealand. It’s silvery and strange and vulnerable to overfishing. It ends up in fish and chips a lot. With its eerie color and the floppy “hoe-like” appendage hanging off its snout, (it can sense the movement and weak electrical fields of prey), the elephant shark frankly makes the goblin shark seem a creature of sublime beauty.

As alien as these sea beings are, they are also being studied as a link to human ancestry, in the elephant shark genome project. I couldn’t find a way to save elephant sharks tonight, but I did stop to sign this petition about ending shark finning in New Zealand where elephant sharks live. I admit, it’s a rather thin connection, but a rising tide lifts all sharks or something like that.