Which is hardly an auspicious beginning.
Here’s what happened, in my best recollection of chronological order. Which is only partially reliable. Do you sense a man negotiating slippery terrain?
Here’s exactly what happened. Pretty much.
I am meditating in the morning, as is my regular routine. I have already determined today’s blog post idea, having scratched down some preliminary notions. A thought arrives in the midst of my meditation –
“An out of work lion tamer after the Barnum & Bailey circus closed down interviewed at the unemployment agency” –
And I immediately change course. Imagining the possibilities in this replacement suggestion.
“Have you attempted to find work this week?” (Or whatever the official wording of that inquiry is.)
“Were you successful in that endeavor?
“And your profession is what again?” (Which would already be written down but I need it to prominently tee up the answer:)
“I am a lion a tamer.”
I would then proceed to fashion a dialogue whose premising underpinning is, “Times change and people inevitably get hurt.” An itinerant lion tamer, through no fault of his or her own, is now permanently unemployed – for despite what any prominent government official proclaims those lion taming jobs are not coming back – leaving not a hint as to how the unique abilities of a lion tamer can be transferred to an available alternate field of endeavor.
Okay, here we go.
Taking, let’s call it, the more liberal side of the proposition, I have equated lion tamers with prison guards and stereotyped prison guards with physical abuse, a charge I am not sure necessarily applies to either of them.
Do you see how complicated this is? It is so easy to mischaracterize people. As well as circus animals whose inner feelings we know nothing about. And there I go again, irritating people who spend years in vaunted universities studying precisely those matters.
It’s like you can hardly open your mouth. You can only imagine things, which is permissible, but barely, and risks blistering consequences.
But come on. It’s kind of fun, isn’t it?
Imagine a superannuated circus lion looking querulously towards the future?
Imagine that lion additionally bemoaning the irony of being tossed aside because protesters objected to the (perceived, which is again a judgment on my part, or is it a judgment on the protestors’?) mistreatment of the elephants. Nobody cared about the perceived mistreatment of lions. Nonetheless, there they are, thrown into (possibly premature) parenthetical retirement. Along with the circus’s llamas, the camels and the dogs.
What’s going to happen to those lions? Will they be returned to the wild? Lacking any developed abilities to survive there for more than an hour? (Interruption: For one of my favorite lines, involving an interviewed giraffe asked about the assumed pleasures of roaming freely in their natural habitat, who responds: “Freedom’s just another word for running for your life.”)
Are those discarded lions headed for zoos, facing further animal rights protests triggering further disorientations?
DISPLACED LION: “Would you please just make up your mind?”
How about simply releasing them to the streets? Okay, I’m kidding about that. But with genuine freedom, shouldn’t all options be on the table?
I read in my research that the recently deposed Barnum & Bailey elephants would be spending their remaining days “relaxing in Ringling’s Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida.”
Did anyone determine if they were ready to “relax”? And who the heck picked central Florida? Do they even have movies there? Does Tony Orland drop by to entertain?
As is it certain they are actually doing the right thing?
Maybe those elephants liked the attention of performing in front of an audience. Maybe they luxuriated in the applause. Maybe elephants are big hams. I don’t know. But does anyone? Really?
This paragraph is a “given” so I shall keep it to a minimum. No sane person condones of the deliberate mistreatment of animals. But where exactly do you draw the line? Abusive training techniques? Or taking pampering care of them and putting them in shows? (I know. I revealed my cards with that “pampering care” choice of words. But what do I know. I don’t watch them learning the routines. Although I did read they get pedicures.)
A personal recollection, speaking at least peripherally to the situation at hand. And Watch how quickly it turns anthropomorphic.
Last year, we took then four year-old Milo to the Ringling Bros. circus, at which point, the performing elephants were still prominently on the bill. What I noticed, however, was that the elephants, going through their lumbering paces, displayed the revealing unenthusiasm of deflated actors seeing the show’s “Closing Notices” being posted as they headed for the stage.
Those elephants were gloomy!
You see what I did there? I anthropomorphized depressed elephants.
Okay. Maybe it is time for animal acts to disappear. But understand something. That determination is inevitably made by people. And, as with similar crusades, the most determined contingent ultimately wins out, the rest of us wishy-washies ceding them the benefit of the dolphin. Sorry, I mean, doubt.
The thing is, it is an entirely human decision.
Nobody ever consults the animals.
My unasked for two cents?
No matter the circumstances, the better they are treated, the happier they are.
But, of course,
I’m just guessing about that.