Photo Courtesy of MCT Campus
After 36 years of fighting with animal rights groups such as People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and continuously lower ticket sales for what PETA calls “the saddest show on earth,” Ringling Brothers Circus announced on Jan. 14 that they will close for good after ending their elephant program because of animal rights groups last year.
With SeaWorld also ending their controversial killer whale program last year, animal rights have had several wins over the last year. Animal rights activists at East and Animal Shelter Director Zoe Agnew believe that animal rights has become a more prominent issue in society.
Over the past three and a half decades Ringling Brothers and SeaWorld have faced allegations of exploiting, beating, confining and forcing animals to participate in shows. PETA protested the Ringling Brothers Circus in Kansas City when they were touring in 2010.
According to PETA’s website, SeaWorld, “enslaves animals in tiny, concrete tanks at marine abusement parks around the country.” Documentaries such as “Blackfish” heavily criticized SeaWorld and their orca program. After it was released in 2013, public pressure led SeaWorld to end their killer whale program in March of last year.
“All other animal circuses ”. . .” must take note: society has changed, eyes have been opened, people know now who these animals are, and we know it is wrong to capture and exploit them,” PETA said in a statement after the announcement of the final shows of Ringling Brothers.
Animal Rights has also become a more popular issue at East. Several different clubs focusing on animals are available for students this year have been started this year. The Animal Activist Club, new this year, was founded by freshman Skyler Boschen. Boschen started the club after seeing other young animal rights activists isolate and not express themselves about issues they felt passionate about at school. She started the club to provide a place for young activists to express their opinions.
“I think this generation is becoming more aware because it’s starting to be more obvious of how cruel these industries are,” Boschen said, “This generation some how decided to not turn a blind eye, but also I believe that change takes time.”
The Animal Activist Club meets on Monday afternoons in room 305.
Rose Brooks Women’s Shelter is the only domestic violence shelter in Kansas City that allows victims to bring their pets with them. Zoe Agnew, Rose Brooks’ Animal Shelter Director, believes the shift in perspective towards more pro-animal rights is from the increased role in people’s lives. Director of Animal Shelter at Rose Brooks Women’s Shelter, believes that the shift in perspective towards more pro-animal rights is from the pets’ increased role in people’s lives. Agnew pointed out that over the past few decades, relationships and the way we care for animals has changed.
“For many people, animals are no longer looked at as property but as a member of the family,” Agnew said. “[Take] Dogs for example: instead of living outdoors and being used as a ‘tool’ such as protection or for farming, dogs now play a huge role in our family.”
Senior and animal rights supporter Ben Robinson feels that this generation is more liberal, so they take animal rights more seriously than generations of the past.
“As the women’s suffrage movements of the early 1900’s sought to gain the right to vote, the animal rights movement seeks to end speciesism and gain equality and equity for all animal species,” Robinson said. “It is simply the next chapter in an immense storybook of revolutions that usher in equality.”