Students’ passion highlights plight of wild animals in circuses
Three twelve year old students from Springside Chestnut Hill (SCH) Academy Middle School in Philadelphia, PA gave a presentation about the suffering of circus animals during the March 13, 2014 televised meeting of the Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors.
SCH Academy sixth graders Carlo Filippini, Sante Filippini and Alex Johnson called on the Board to initiate an ordinance to ban wild animals in traveling circuses in Whitemarsh Township. They came with the backing of fellow students who they polled to assess attitudes to animals in traveling circuses – overwhelmingly the students said that circuses are no place for wild animals.
Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International (ADI), which has secured national legislation and local ordinances all over the world to prohibit the use of wild animals in circuses, is backing the boys and believes this could be the first step to eliminating these acts in the area.
Creamer says: “Carlo, Sante, and Alex represent the very people the circus claims to be providing entertainment for. ADI has secured national legislation ordinances all over the world and once people get the facts they agree that the suffering of these animals in the name of entertainment must stop. Traveling from place to place circuses cannot provide appropriate facilities for these animals and with the constant handling and having to perform physical abuse is inevitable. The Board should listen very carefully to these students.”
The students are participating in local animal protection group 22reasons’ year-long humane education program at their school which offers the boys the opportunity to collaborate and design ways to raise awareness about circus animal suffering.
Inspired by 22reasons and ADI’s Lion Ark rescue, where 25 lions were rescued from abusive circuses in Bolivia, the boys fashioned a “beastwagon,” placed it in the school lobby and stayed inside it for 4 hours so that students, faculty and parents could see what life is like for lions and other animals in the circus. They also collected signatures for a petition for Whitemarsh Township to restrict the use of wild animals in traveling circuses, and they collected over $200 dollars for the care of the rescued Bolivian lions.
Gigi Glendinning, Director of 22reasons, contacted the Township Manager to explain the boys’ efforts, and the Whitemarsh Township Board invited the boys to attend a board meeting to share their research about the use of animals in circuses. The Board meeting was open to the public and broadcast live on TV.
Gigi Glendinning: “We are all so impressed with the boys’ compassion for the animals and their success at informing the community about the suffering behind the scenes at the circus.”