The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
Texas A&M fans react after The Aggies win the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Sunday, June 9, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
The mad dash to Omaha
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter • June 21, 2024

After Texas A&M baseball’s win over Florida sent the Aggies to their first Men’s College World Series Championship Series in program...

Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Sixth sense
June 18, 2024
Enjoying the Destination
Enjoying the Destination
Cara Hudson, Maroon Life Writer • June 17, 2024

For the history buffs, there’s a story to why Bryan and College Station are so closely intertwined. In 1871 when the Texas Legislature approved...

Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
Review: ‘Furiosa’ is a must-see
Justin ChenJune 4, 2024

My jaw dropped open in 2016. Rarely in life does that happen, but the viewing experience of “Mad Max: Fury Road" was something to behold....

#WorldElephantDay sparks controversy

Photo by Valerie Gunchick
World Elephant Day

One of the top trending hashtags on twitter Wednesday was #WorldElephantDay, gaining traction from animal rights activist organizations like PETA, who tweeted against the captivity of Elephants.




The fall PETA campus representative for Texas A&M and wildlife and fisheries senior Megan Paul hosted a protest of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey held in Reed Arena on July 30. Wearing an elephant costume, she and fellow protesters held signs, passed out flyers and DVDs and spoke to people walking to the circus about the use of animals in their performances.


“I’m hoping that people will start to understand that the Ringling Bros. — while they did make some strides by saying that elephants would be out of their acts by 2018 — they aren’t completely there yet,” Paul said. “They still use elephants — they will have them here today. They still use bull hooks, they still use whips, they’re not doing anything to make life for that animal better and they’re still using smaller animals like lions and tigers.”


Paul said she disapproves of A&M’s hosting of the circus.


“I’m really disappointed that Texas A&M is hosting them,” Paul said. “I know they do that year by year, but I think that things would really change if people stood up and told them how much they didn’t appreciate that. A&M stands for animal welfare, and A&M is the top of everything for animals. And I think they need to get on that with the circus as well and stop supporting the circus coming out.”


Fellow protester and science and technology journalism graduate student Gwendolyn Inocencio said using animals for entertainment is cruel and people can seek the same entertainment from skilled human performers.


“Circuses are cruel, and they’re outdated,” Inocencio said. “I mean look at Cirque du Soleil — those are people performing for you that are true artists that have put time and years into their craft. Let animals alone. Let the elephant be where the elephant wants to be.”


Two Asian elephants — Asia, 47, and April, five — performed in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s show ‘Built To Amaze!’ on July 30 alongside their trainers.


The Director of Veterinary Care for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Ashley Settles, said the animals involved in their performances have resources to have the best care possible.


“People are entitled to their opinion — we just want to put the truth out there as far as how our animals are cared for and the type of environment we provide for them,” Settles said. “All of our animals travel in USDA regulated enclosures and they have 24/7 care by their caregivers and crew depending on which species. We have a vet tech that lives on the unit so we have constant veterinary care available.”


Settles said the elephants enjoy the enrichment they gain from practicing and performing.


“They perform because they want to and because they like it,” Settles said. “If there are elephants, or any other animal, that doesn’t do well on the road, they don’t have to stay. We have the Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida, and most of our herd lives there. There are a select few who are out on the road because they thrive out here.”


Before the performances, Ringling Bros. holds a pre-show during which ticket holders can see the animals back stage and in the ring. Settles said this interaction is a good opportunity for people to see animals like elephants up close.


“We feel it is very important and beneficial for the public to see these animals,” Settles said. “Other than in a zoo or a circus, they might not be able to see elephants close up in person other than on T.V. And I think that’s so important for conservation.”


Texas A&M Animal Science professor Ted Friend has conducted behavior and stress-related research on a range of species including elephants in the circus. Friend said his research has indicated circuses are not inherently detrimental to the welfare of elephants.


Friend said his research came up with similar conclusions to a study done on elephants in British circuses by Marthe Kiley-Worthington, funded by the RSPCA.


“This study shows that the welfare of the animals in British circuses, as judged by physical and psychological criteria, is not as a rule inferior to that of other animal husbandry systems such as in zoos, private stables and kennels,” Kiley-Worthington wrote in Animals in Circuses and Zoos, Chiron’s World? “It also points out that even if this were to be the case, there is no reason why it should be a necessity of the circus way of life. It is therefore irrational to take a stand against circuses on grounds that the animals in circuses necessarily suffer, unless they are to take the same stand against zoos, stables, kennels, pets and all other animal-keeping systems.”


Inocencio said since the circus is so big, having people go against it sparks others to question why they would go against it and figure out more for themselves.


“It’s good to get well rounded sides of things and let people make their own opinions,” Inocencio said.

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