Once a year or so the circus visits Cozumel. I used to love the circus when I was a little girl and even in Mexico the circus smells and sounds the same. The sawdust, candy, animals, big top. I tend to have a bit of a fascination with circus folk. Mystics, wanderers, they all set my imagination alive. And the animals; I remember being thrilled at elephants, lions, tigers and miniature horses. Even now as an adult I can't help feeling a little bit of childlike excitement walking past the circus.
Now though, as with so many things as an adult, I also see the badness in the circus, and in particular the way these magnificent animals are treated. In England and also I think America now the use of exotic animals in traveling circuses is prohibited. If it were not I would boycott them in the same way I boycott Sea World and the two dolphin discovery parks here in Mexico.
Sadly here in Mexico there is no such protection for big exotic animals. The circus travels in grueling heat with, from what I could make out, 20 tigers, 5 or 6 lions, jaguars, leopards, cougars, monkeys, camels, horses - well over 100 animals kept in tiny cages. I've never been to the circus as an adult, but on Sunday we were parking to go to the supermarket when BF noticed the animals cages at the end of the parking lot. We wondered over to see what was going on and found truck loads of animals packed in metal cages, on trucks, parked out in the blistering sun. I was overheated on the street and I was wearing a little sundress - imagine this heat in a fur coat. I'm always armed with a camera on Sundays to catalog the house progress so I snapped a few shots of what we saw.
These lions were collapsed on the floor of their 10' x 4' cage. The big guy's mane was all matted with sweat and the tiger, below, was lying on his back with his tong out, panting like crazy in an effort to cool down. In fairness they were all given water and seemed in fair health (in that their fur seemed healthy and they were not skin and bone). But how sad to see such grand animals trapped in such meagre conditions.
Despite being saddened by their plight, I must admit that it was amazing to see these animals so close up. The lions reminded me of my cats Bigsy and Bets snuggled up together and this tiger looks like he's waiting for a belly rub. I guess its this cuteness, together with the thrill of the fact that they are actually quite powerful killing machines which is such a crowd puller. I'm not sure what can be done to stop this. I'm sure there are animal rights organizations here in Mexico, and hopefully the world will continue to wake up to the fact that we should treat animals with respect. In the meantime I will continue to boycott such places and to air my view on animal captivity whenever I think I might be in a position to dissuade someone from swimming with dolphins.