ACTION: help us stop the exploitation of wildlife at the Barnstable County Fair
This summer, a popular American pastime is occurring all over the country involving music, food, and family-related festivities. Carnival rides, face-painting, funnel cakes, and cotton candy are among the many reasons families will venture out into the blazing heat to partake in this favorite pastime and enjoy their local county fair.
Frequent at these fairs are traveling animal acts, often including wild animals such as tigers, bears, and primates. Crowds will “ooo” and “ahh” as the trained animals leap from one stool to another, stand up on their hind legs, or jump from daring heights into the arms of their trainers.
Starting this Saturday, at the Barnstable County Fair on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and just a few short miles from the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) global headquarters, a traveling show called the "Rainforest Experience" will be conducting animal shows daily – three times a day for eight days straight.
Masquerading as a valuable educational experience for the public, this group only truly offers another, yet more regrettable American pastime, the exploitation of captive wild animals for entertainment and profit.
PM Productions Entertainment, Inc., the company responsible for the Rainforest Experience, boasts of hauling their animals to every corner of the U.S., year-round, to perform for the public.
The animals are subject to three shows a day and can be put out on exhibit for additional viewing. The tigers, for example, can be available on display for an extra 8-10 hours each day.
Most zoo animals aren’t even exposed to this extreme level of up close and constant exhibition. One can only imagine the frustration and irritation these animals face after walking upright backwards and rolling over on command to then be confined and gawked at by strangers in the insufferable heat and humidity currently plaguing Cape Cod.
IFAW strongly believes that wild animals belong in the wild; however, when kept in captive situations, such environments must provide elements that ensure the best possible welfare for each individual animal. Traveling circus acts, such as this one, do not come close to prioritizing the biological and psychological needs of their wild animals.
In their promotional video, scenes of big cats and primates performing typical “circus” tricks are paired with flashing words such as “Majesty” and “Educational,” claiming that their “unique animal show [is] where conservation and environmental awareness take center stage.”
At one point, the word “Endangered” floats across an image of a white tiger – an animal only found regularly in captivity because of our own human attraction to them.
The widespread misconception, and misrepresentation, that white tigers are any more endangered than their orange counterparts is a ruse used by entertainers due to the economical fact that white tigers draw a crowd.
In reality, the white tiger is not its own species or even subspecies, but a color variation found in Bengal tigers and rarely occurs in the wild.
This not only exploits the animals, but the public’s naivety to the issue and their fascination with these animals. Continuing to breed white tigers in captivity and showing them at county fairs is not a conservation strategy but a business one, and doing so will do nothing for the protection of wild tigers.
I’m disappointed that even in the progressive communities of Cape Cod - IFAW’s own backyard - we are seeing this type of blatant animal exploitation and even more upset that it is being done under the façade of wildlife conservation.
Cape Codders are environmentally-aware, conservation-minded, and animal-conscious individuals who I believe would not appreciate being duped by an act whose actions fly in the face of animal welfare and conservation.
Don’t let business and profit-focused groups exploit your interest and love for animals, conservation, and the environment.