THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM; RINGLING BROS. AND THE LA ZOO
Attitudes are changing, and it’s reflected in the work we’ve done; case in point — the elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo. We made some media pieces for the zoo when they built a new elephant area, (which you can see clips of on our site) and it was quite an impressive thing. Billy, the lone elephant, had a new home; a 52 million dollar place of his own, complete with a waterfall and pool he could swim in. Soon they brought in 2 females, so he would have company.
We were favorably impressed. But others were not. Talk show host Bob Barker and other people were pouring money into stopping the project. Others wanted all elephants “set free”. Some said all zoos should be shut down. “Prisons”, they were called.
And in a way, maybe they are. But in another, they’re really not.
Some zoos, especially small, underfunded ones, can be pretty sad places. But we did not see the LA Zoo that way; same for the zoo in San Diego. They were trying to make pleasant places for the animals to live in. The animals for the most part, were breeding in captivity; a good sign. They were trying to enlarge the habitats. They were caring for the animals well; I know they get more attentive health care than I do.
Recently we did some work with The Hettema Group, for the Ringling Bros. Circus Museum in Sarasota. And then the work stopped; the circus was cancelled. People didn’t like seeing the elephants; then when elephants were no longer part of the show, people didn’t go to the circus.
And with that the last vestiges of vaudeville disappear, unless you count the Ohio County Fair.
Some people think that wild animals are still being pulled from the jungle and locked up in zoos. But the elephants were all “rescues”; elephants that worked hauling timber, or in the circus, or were on the verge of being shot in Vietnam or Myanmar, for raiding village gardens.
The reality is that most zoo animals are donated by exotic pet owners that can’t care for them anymore.
If you still say “set them free” then fine, where do you set them free? An Asian elephant eats 300 pounds of food per day; a herd of elephants can strip a forest clean in little time. And elephants roam; where are you going to be able to stop elephants from going where they want? They cross the rivers and highways and knock down fences like they were twigs.
A nod from the CEO and circuses were done; people stopped coming, stopped caring. And that’s how it goes; things are never going to change and then BOOM, a noisy era ends quietly with a press release.
Maybe some day there will be wild places set aside where animals can roam free; places like Tennessee have created an elephant sanctuary in a secluded forest that’s got plenty to eat, an easy climate and it’s naturally hemmed in with cliffs cut by rivers. That’s a start.
As we say, that’s an easy rich guy fix; Joe Billionaire just needs to say “yes” and buy a chunk of Arkansas.
Or just give us a nod. Boom. Problem solved. You’re welcome.