Of Heffalumps and Woozles

Anna May and Ned. That’s my old colleague Vanessa Thomas up top, and the legendary Buckles Woodcock in the pith helmet

I liked the Big Apple Circus show so much this season I had to see it twice. One thing I did miss, however, were the elephants Anna May and Ned. Why were they missing? Well, I’m here to tell you when I was there in the mid ’90s, not a week went by when we didn’t receive a letter, usually written in a shaky scrawl in crayon, with lots of misspellings and exclamation points, accusing the circus of being some sort of moral equivalent of the Third Reich for keeping and showing those elephants. I’m also here to testify that few organizations are as crunchy as the Big Apple Circus — it was started by a couple of actual hippies, and the organization’s corporate behavior has always cleaved heavily in the direction of “ethical” — “p.c.”, to give it a negative spin it doesn’t deserve. In short, personally, I know that I would sure like to live a life as cushy and as pleasant as those elephants were living. If anyone has a job for me like that, and under the same conditions (even if it means I have to sleep on a bed of straw), please consider me an applicant.

At any rate Feld Entertainment, the folks who own and operate Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus, have not caved in to that pressure, but not without same pain to their organization. Some good news in this morning’s paper, though. Feld just won a suit for wrongful litigation against their tormentors at the ASPCA. Don’t get me wrong – – I’m very much in favor of finding loving homes for cats and dogs, and freeing chimps from animal testing, and fighting animal abuse WHERE IT EXISTS.  That doesn’t mean it exists INTRINSICALLY in show business. In this particular case, it shouldn’t shock you that I’m on the side of the Big Top. A world without circus elephants? Are you people insane????

At any rate’s here’s an excellent op ed about the recent decision by the Cato Institute’s Walter Olsen:


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