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Thursday, July 10, 2008 

July 7th, 2008. 18 miles. Hoosick Falls, NY. Grass, shade. Warm.

Set up in a lovely park in Hoosick Falls, NY on the border with Vermont. Over the back roads winding through the Green Mountains we’re only eight miles from Bennington, VT. Moderate business.

After tear down walked to a bar called the Sandbox with tiger trainer Casey McCoy. Bartender was a Harvard trained attorney who likes to tend bar because she’s “a people person.” There’s a novel in Hoosick Falls. In a perfect world lawyers don’t to be lawyers, and in a perfect world I would reorganize parts of the Kelly Miller Circus. Once upon a time under the pre in the animal department.vious owner the show had an “animal department” charged with caring for all of the show animals, and animals leased from elsewhere. Today the show animals are all hoofstock. The tiger acts isn’t housed in the animal department. The leased elephant act is housed in the animal department but comes with an elephant manager and a groom. The elephant manager also owns a horse act housed with the other hoofstock. The confusion arises when it comes to the division of responsibility. The tigers are clearly the responcibilty of the tiger trainer. The elephants are clearly the responsibility of the elephant manager. But by virtue of shared resources, the animal department continues to provide services for the elephants (loading hay, setting up and taking down a shared canopy) and also provides some services for the horse act, because the horses ride in the animal truck. (Truck clean out.) None of these are big jobs, or bad jobs, or difficult jobs – but because of the work load the animal department has slots for two grooms, when with no shared chores, and some simple equipment upgrades, otherwise we would need only one. Two days ago after weeks of talk one of the animal grooms was removed from the department. Frankly I thought he should have been fired. It was enough that he was lazy. He beat animals. I don’t mean that he disciplined animals that were unruly. I mean he kicked and punched ride ponies as a matter of course, and whipped a ride camel while Vet providing the show with health certificates stood in a trailer door way feet away. I could argue that casual abuse was once the norm while on a farm, or in a zoo, or on a circus. And I’d like to think that I’ve more than proven which side I’m on in fighting the extremists associated with animal liberation. But I honestly believe that the only way we can keep animals on a traditional circus is by complying with animal welfare rules. You don’t tell a camel to “kush” then beat the hell out of him even as he’s kneeling down. This particular groom was reassigned to another job. I can’t imagine why. In the meantime he still lives in the cab of the animal truck, as he has for twenty years. Suddenly the other groom, and the elephant manager are worried about a “labor shortage.” Even a lazy worker works sometimes. If I was the circus manager I think I’d say something like, “You allowed it to happen and never bothered to stop it. In May in New Jersey when the temperature was 100 degrees the animals had never been shed of their winter coats. Now deal with it.” I’m not the circus manager, and certainly the animal department won't be rearranged this season. But John Ringling Nlorth II is a genuine and sincere animal lover who hopes to continue the tradition of animal acts on th is circus. It only takes one overtly, openly abusive jerk to hold the entire future of this show or any other show hostage. Cat trainer Wade Burck is right when he points out that circus can be its own worst enemy.

About me

  • I'm B.E.Trumble
  • From Everywhere, United States
  • Ben Trumble works in circus, carnival, and media relations
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