Circus Town

If you’ve ever considered running away and joining the circus, now is your chance.

All Over Albany had some picturesof the Ringling Bros. elephants being walked through the streets on their way to the TU Center. You can’t miss an elephant, but if you look around you’ll see signs of the circus everywhere. There are circus trucks, RVs that performers often live in while on the road, and grandest of all, the circus train parked in the railyard at the Port of Albany.

Oh, yes, and the tigers.

I was able to sneak a peek at the big cats this morning in their cages behind the arena. This one looked up after I made the same noises I do when summoning the cats at home.

The Greatest Show on Earth is also the most complex. This is more like moving an army than bringing in the sort of events you usually see at the TU Center. What’s really amazing is that Ringling runs two completely separate shows simultaneously, the Blue Tour — which we’re seeing this week — and the Red Tour, which is hitting another set of cities.

The Providence Journal has a couple of good behind the scenes circus stories they did recently when the Red Tour hit town; one is about feeding the clowns (and others) and the other about life on the road with the show.

Ah, to be Toby Tyler for just ten weeks.

43 thoughts on “Circus Town

  1. Hi Rob!

    The acts in the circus with the humans are amazingand awesome! The acts with the wild animals are not amazing and not natural. I just want to let your readers know they can voice they concern for the animals on Thursday, May 6th. I have attached the information for this below. And Rob, please be careful–that kitty may want to follow you home!! Thanks! M.J.
    Have you seen the recently released photos taken by a Ringling Bros. whistleblower of baby elephants tied up and electro-shocked by Ringling trainers? If not, check them out. After you do, you’ll understand why we’re inviting you to come out and stand up for animals at a demonstration protesting the arrival of Ringling in Albany.

    Your presence will make a world of difference to frightened baby elephants who are bound with ropes and wrestled into confusing and physically difficult positions in order to learn circus “tricks.” As they scream, cry, and struggle, they are stretched out, slammed to the ground, struck with bullhooks, and shocked with electric prods. Please join us in protesting this cruel treatment of animals.

    What: Opening-night demonstration against Ringling cruelty
    When: Thursday, May 6, 5 p.m.
    Where: Across the street from Times Union Center at 51 S. Pearl St. (see this map), one block south of State Street in downtown Albany (Park on surrounding streets or in the lot on Green Street and tell them that you won’t be staying for the whole show so that they will park you by the exit and not block you in)

    Let’s keep the spirit of the opening-night demonstration alive throughout Ringling’s stay in Albany! Take a look at the many opportunities to protest and leaflet, or e-mail me at for more details. Please use the subject line of this e-mail when responding.

    Want to do more? Visit to discover a multitude of ways to help animals who are abused in the circus—from writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to sharing PETA’s online videos with your friends and family members.

    For all animals,

    Ann Cashell
    Action Team Coordinator
    People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

  2. I absolutely agree with MJ.

    I once wrote a paper on elephants in the circus for an ethics class and what I found out truly made me cry. No wonder why animals go crazy. If people do to people what they do to the animals, they would all go to jail for a very long, long time.

    Children should learn about animals by reading books and watching shows with animals in their natural habitat such as the nature shows on PBS.

    Ringling Bros. has a long history of illegalities. People need to know this and avoid the circus.

  3. Smoke and mirrors.

    I’ll also never forget my first time visiting a zoo. It actually wasn’t that long ago and I cried watching a cheetah pace back and forth, back and forth in the same spot. The area where he “lives” was all grassy, except for that one spot. It was pure dirt from his pacing. The elephants? Don’t even get me started…their sadness and wisdom was palpable.

    Circuses? Please. If people want to do stupid human tricks, let them. But not animals who have no choice.

    Boycott the circus.

  4. This is complicated.

    I love the circus, but I’m really starting to wonder if it’s worth it considering the animal issues. Similarly, all the information out now about factory farming has me enjoying meat less and less.

    The asy choice? Do nothing.

  5. Someone I am very close to (who shall remain nameless) has done security in this area for over 20 years..and everytime the circus comes to town she takes all the shows off. I myself have been backstage at several of these events and I urge everyone PLEASE BOYCOTT THESE PEOPLE. I have never seen anything like it. The looks that these animals will give you is just heartbreaking. My 4 and 6 yr old children have NEVER been to the circus and NEVER will.

  6. No, Rob, you don’t have to “do nothing”. I honestly didn’t think about where my meat came from or even the life of the circus animals. Then one day I stumbled across a film of a fur farm on the computer. That got me and also started to make me think about all animal productsand our use of animals in our society. I am no spring chicken (no pun intended), but since last summer my two daughters and I became vegetarian. It is a process.

    Now isn’t there a circus with just people performing and it’s really good?

  7. I saw Big Apple Circus a few years ago, and while there were some acts involving animals, there were no elephants.

    MJ: I’ll admit, I don’t know if I have the resolve to either give up meat or eat more ethically.

    I met some folks in Romania who wouldn’t eat anything they didn’t raise themselves or know while it was alive.

  8. I’m with the folks above. No reason to subject animals to this for entertainment, and I’ve hated it for years. It’s heartbreaking, and I never took my kids to see this sort of thing.

    I won’t get started on other animal issues, since this is about the circus. Bull-fighting, wtf is up with that? Some sicko macho guys = entertainment? Really?

    Couldn’t help myself.

  9. I guess that when all the comments are “con” and none “pro”, I have to add my own. We have tickets to the upcoming Ringling Brothers circus this weekend; we’re excited to be taking our child, and he’s thrilled to be going.

    Am I in favor of torturing any living being? No. But, unless every person who has commented here (or who boycotts the circus) is a vegan, then the comments are hypocritical.

    If you are a vegan, and if you own no leather shoes, belts, handbags, etc. (let alone fur), then I applaud you for your strength of conviction. However, if you’re not, then I hope that you’re not among the group of protesters outside the TU Center when the circus comes to town. That just ruins it for the starry-eyed children who love the circus and the adults who love to give their children entertainment and an experience that they will cherish for a long time.

    I plan to fully soak up the joy and wonderment on my child’s face this weekend as he experiences the Greatest Show on Earth.

  10. Hear hear Amanda. I totally agree.

    There’s just no reason to view (and by viewing you’re kind of participating) this spectacle of animal cruelty.

    Sorry Kate, but your argument does not hold up. One can eat meat and be against animal abuse. Eating meat does not mean you agree with animals being tortured (seriously, do some research on it) into performing. Kate, just because the advertisements tell you it’s the “Greatest Show on Earth” doesn’t mean it really is. I’m willing to bet any show that is actually the greatest show on earth does not involve elephants being stuck with bullhooks. Gross.

  11. Kate, not sure I understand your point. One needs to attain ethical purity before speaking up for abused animals (and, yes, I am vegan)? The documentation exists for those willing to tear down the walls of convention and tradition. If children saw the training techniques (babies forcilbly and forever separated from their mothers, ropes, chains, bullhooks, electric prods, endless confinement, etc.), they would instinctively rebel against using animals for stupid entertainment. Their is a profound sadness that engulfs the highly intelligent and majestic circus elephants. They have been defeated.

  12. Enjoy the show Kate @ # 11 !!

    Thankfully we still live in a world where you have a CHOICE and are able to decide for yourself if the Circus is right for you and your family. I am always amused by those who will often argue about how very important CHOICE is but they are the same people who want to ban this and ban that … taking the choice away from you.

    Their hypocrisy is profound. Take a look back at this thread and ask all who saw fit to post against the Circus if they are willing to live a life with no meat, no leather belt, shoes, coats, no animal based products of any kind including cosmetics made from or tested on animals.

    You will see just how fast they climb back on the “CHOICE” bandwagon.

    Yet they would take your choice to attend the Circus out of your hands and mandate that government make the choice for you.

    WOW !!!

    It is also interesting that your post brought out the biggest hypocrite of all …T / U animal rights blogger and the OWNER of Little Anthony’s Pizza, Pat Battuello.

    Pat uses his blog to advocate for a vegan world and yet he makes his living selling chicken wings, roast beef, turkey, ham, sausage, pepperoni and assorted dairy products.

    He has even gone so far as to ban me from posting on his blog. What a phony !!!!!

  13. BL: If you mean the direction in which this post veered, absolutely.

    That’s OK… It’s interesting where these things go, considering it started as “I saw some tigers, today.”

  14. Took my son to the circus yesterday. He loved it, my husband and I loved it, and my son now has a memory that will last forever. Good, old-fashioned fun. Can’t see anything wrong with that (nor did, apparently, anyone else in the packed house at the Times Union center yesterday morning)!

  15. Dear Loved the Circus!
    You are so right! Ringling didn’t want you to see anything wrong with the circus–so you didn’t!! That is what I used to think and actually never gave the circus a second thought until this year. Then I came upon the site and I totally cringed when I saw this video. Now it does not matter if you like PETA or not–just take a moment and look at the video. You will see three important facts: Ringling employees, Ringling elephants, and heartbreaking treatment of elephants–just a typical day for these majestic animals.

    When you have a moment check the video and decide for yourself. I’m glad you had a nice family day with your son and husband. We all need that!! After viewing that video, maybe you will see what Ringling didn’t want you to see.



  16. Kate and Jerry:

    Why do you think that someone has to be vegan to speak out against animal cruelty? Kate, you say that you are not in favor or torturing any living being, so what is holding you back from speaking out? Is eating meat and wearing leather shoes your excuse?

    We all have choices and choices aren’t black and white, all or nothing. Jerry, you make a choice to post ignorant rantings on many TU blogs. Your choice.

    Simply put: You don’t have to be vegan to oppose the circus adn the animal abuse that goes on within.

  17. What a surprise!

    Nicole – aren’t you the business partner of Pat Battuello, The Little Anthony’s vegan Pizza Hypocrite? Is that the real reason you find my posts to be “ignorant rantings”. Is it because they might have a negative economic impact on you personally … like you and the other animal rights whackos are trying to do to the circus?

    Nicole, my latest ignorant rant was to post in support of Kate and her CHOICE to go to the circus. A choice that you and your fellow protestors would like to take away from her.

    When people make a choice to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet, I support and applaud them. I am certain that for many reasons, it is a difficult choice. However it is a personal choice and one that should not be forced on others.

    But when those same people try to decide for the rest what we can and can’t eat or wear or watch (entertainment) then they better expect to be held to the “practice what you preach” standard. If you cannot practice what you preach, then expect to hear charges of hypocrisy from people like me.

    What you prepare in your kitchen and feed yourself is your business. However if you wish to have influence over MY CHOICES in these matters, you can be certain that me and many more like me (vegetarians and vegans are about 4% of the world population) will be pushing back. If you object to the circus THEN DON’T GO!!! But please do not try to decide for the rest of us if the circus should be allowed at all.

    As for you and Pat, you advocate for a vegan world and you sell chicken wings, roast beef, turkey, ham, sausage, pepperoni and assorted dairy products. You are the worst kind of “do as I say … not as I do” hypocrites.

    And you have the nerve to suggest that my contributions to these blogs are “ignorant rantings”.

    Good luck with that attitude Nicole … you’re gonna need it.

  18. Jerry: Really?! That’s sort of surprising.

    If someone makes a choice to be a vegan, I’m cool with that — but if they then profit from the sale of meat and other animal products? That just seems wrong.

    Selling the products supports the system, wouldn’t you say? It’s like espousing pacifism while selling weapons.

  19. Rob, I was hoping you might be a little more responsible before allowing a reader to disparage a fellow blogger and his business. There, of course, is a story behind my business, veganism, and activism. A search of my blog would have revealed relevant facts. Jerry (and two others) are trolls and nothing more. You give them a platform, and that is truly unfortunate.

  20. Jerry,
    I am confused. All the objections to the circus relate to the treatment of the animals. Watch this video and then ask yourself if this is something you would want to support. That is it! Simple. We are putting information out there so the public can make an educated decision. Ringling Bros. must be feeling the effects since they have their employees handing out brochures on how they treat their animals at the top of the stairs going into the TU Center. You live in a free country where you are entitled to all the knowlege you can get and then proceed to make your own mind up. I never knew about the abuse of the animals until this year.

  21. I don’t really understand the connection. Are we supposed to go to the circus and eat the animals? Who does that? (Although, for some reason, I do have a hankering for a box of animal crackers right now…no one is boycotting those, are they?).

    anyway, even after all this, I still think that those most horrifying, scary thing about the circus, is the clowns. Boycott because of them, if nothing else.

  22. Pat: I’ve re-read Jerry’s comment, and while he’s very passionate in his argument, I don’t agree that it qualifies for deletion.

    You’re welcome to suggest I’m irresponsible for allowing it to be published (as you did), but better yet, I’d suggest that we call upon Mike Huber to have a look at it. He’s more familiar with the history between you and your readers, and may be a better judge of what is out of line.

    I’ll read about how your veganism relates to your business. I’m just saying that making money from something you find morally reprehensible is a complicated position; perhaps I need to know more about how one works that out in their head.

  23. “Rob, I was hoping you might be a little more responsible before allowing a reader to disparage a fellow blogger and his business”.

    But it’s OK for Pat to disparage fellow bloggers and their businesses like Joseph Cea and Teri Conroy … right Pat ???

    “There, of course, is a story behind my business, veganism, and activism. A search of my blog would have revealed relevant facts”.

    And that story is one HUGE rationalization. It is a living, breathing example of the most profound hypocrisy I have ever seen.

    “Jerry (and two others) are trolls and nothing more. You give them a platform, and that is truly unfortunate.”

    Actual trolling involves taking a thread off subject and I have not done that here or elsewhere so Pat’s use of the term is inaccurate. Further, all Mr. Madeo has given me is an opportunity to respond to Pat’s condescending and hypocritical post directed at “Kate” #11. And my subsequent submissions have been direct replies to other posts.

    Why is it so difficult for Pat to understand that we don’t want a temperance lecture from a man who owns a liquor store? Pat uses his blog to thunder away at the agricultural industry that brings us beef, pork and poultry but he is a willing, profit making part of that industry.

    He has ZERO credibility.

  24. Jerry, I do not want to take the circus away from anyone. I just want people to have information so they can make an Informed Choice.

    Your rantings do not have a negative impact on me personally in any way, financially or otherwise.

    I am in no way pushing my lifestyle on anyone. I am simply educating and hoping people make informed decisions.

    As for Pat, you can say what you want, it doesn’t matter because those who know him personally know exactly where is heart is and what steps he is taking within his business to make changes that support his beliefs.

    Rob, I think you should read Pat’s posts before you make a decision. The switch to vegetarianism or veganism can be an overnight or a long process (months or years). Pat is making changes within his business to support his beliefs. The vegan menu is expanding and with that some of the animal products are disappearing.

    We are having a Vegan Bake Sale this Saturday to benefit the Hudson and Mohawk River Humane Society Spay and Neuter Program. One more of the things we are doing to educate the public and help animals.

  25. Perhaps the point I was trying to make was unclear (my fault); perhaps there are people here just looking to derail the conversation with their own agendas.

    Regardless, maybe this is more succinct: I enjoyed the circus. It was a great day out with my family. I have no regrets.

    I am a Democrat, a liberal, a peacenik. I would not condone any form of torture of a living being. However, I do think that a lot of people come out of the woodwork when the circus comes to town and yell and moan about boycotts and abuse because they think it’s the popular (right?) thing to do.

    I don’t care if anyone is a vegan, or if you’re wearing leather shoes right now, or if you’re carrying a leather handbag. However, I just hope that if you are not a vegan, or if you are wearing leather or some other animal byproduct, that you realize that your actions are no better than mine in my purchase of circus tickets. The animals who were skinned for your fashion pleasure had no choice in what was happening to them. The turkey on your sandwich today endured poor conditions and was raised to be eaten. I see this as no different from animals who are trained performers.

    Like I said, I don’t condone torture. However, I would feel like a hypocrite each time I bite into a burger or as I gaze at the shoes on my feet if I were to boycott the circus.

    Your beliefs and convictions are your own; I respect (most of) them. However, I don’t respect hypocrisy, nor do I respect when people jump on the bandwagon for a “cause” because they think it’s the trendy thing to do, but they will forget all about it by next week.

    All of that being said (and yes, I know I said “succinct” – that’s my hypocrisy), thanks to Jerry for having my back.

  26. Nicole – this is a quote from you most recent post, “Jerry, I do not want to take the circus away from anyone. I just want people to have information so they can make an Informed Choice”.

    Now let’s look at a quote from your blog, the blog your name and hyperlink takes us to “Hopefully, for the animals sake, there is no show (CIRCUS) in Albany next year”.

    Are you intentionally misleading the readers of this blog or are you so used to playing fast and loose with the truth that you can’t remember what you said or where you said it ???

    Which is it ??? There is no third possibility.

  27. Thank you, Kate, for clarifying yourself. I would like to pass this fact about the demonstration on to you. This was originally formed in the 1990s. I don’t think this classifies has trendy. People “come out of the woodwork” to protest when the circus comes to town because that would seem like the ideal time. We could protest when the American Idiol tour comes, but I don’t think we would be targeting the right audience. The groups that are against the circus and for the animals are active year round. This is not a fly by night group of people-they are people who stand up for animals who have no voice. Did you know people came from Massachusetts to protest and will do so in other states because this is a cause close to their heart. Trust me–it takes alot to stand there with a poster and put yourself out for any criticism that comes along. I don’t recall hearing anyone moaning at the protest-just holding signs and handing out literature for anyone who wanted to take it.

    Now Kate, does it matter that I did not have an ounce of leather on me, and I came home to a meatfree meal which I have been doing for sometime? To me it does and that is what matters. Some people who view the film clip of the elephant abuse and then knowingly attend these events seem to get very defensive and pick on the protestors because we may be hitting a nerve that they choose to ignore.

    And Jerry, did you watch the clip? Are you for the circus? Stop picking on Nicole and just answer the question.

  28. I am opposed to any circus that includes animal acts. That being said, I hope there is an animal-free circus in Albany next year, however, I do not see Ringling doing that so I would like it if they are not here next year.

  29. equivocate

    Main Entry: equiv•o•cate

    Pronunciation: i-ˈkwi-və-ˌkāt

    Function: intransitive verb

    Inflected Form(s): equiv•o•cat•ed; equiv•o•cat•ing

    1 : to use equivocal language especially with intent to deceive

    2 : to avoid committing oneself in what one says

    synonyms see LIE

    — equiv•o•ca•tion -ˌkwi-və-ˈkā-shən noun

    — equiv•o•ca•tor -ˈkwi-və-ˌkā-tər noun

  30. ig·nore   /ɪgˈnɔr, -ˈnoʊr/ Show Spelled[ig-nawr, -nohr] Show IPA
    –verb (used with object),-nored, -nor·ing. refrain from noticing or recognizing: to ignore insulting remarks.

    1605–15; < L ignōrāre to not know, disregard, v. deriv. of ignārus ignorant, unaware (with -ō- perh. from ignōtus unknown), equiv. to in- in-3 + gnārus knowing, acquainted (with); akin to (g)nōscere to know1

    —Related forms
    ig·nor·a·ble, adjective
    ig·nor·er, noun
    un·ig·nor·a·ble, adjective
    un·ig·nor·a·b·ly, adverb
    un·ig·nored, adjective
    un·ig·nor·ing, adjective
    well-ig·nored, adjective

    1. overlook; slight, disregard, neglect.

    Used in a sentence: Jerry seems to be ignoring the question
    of Ringling Bros. animal abuse. Jerry has ignored the question asked of him about viewing the video.

  31. Request:

    Could you dictionary people please begin with “A” words? Not only do I get confused when people skip ahead, but now I have to spend this afternoon cleaning up all the calendar pages I strewed over my floor so that I could find the date that helped me to understand your posts. TIA.

  32. “And Jerry, did you watch the clip? Are you for the circus? Stop picking on Nicole and just answer the question”.

    “Jerry seems to be ignoring the question of Ringling Bros. animal abuse. Jerry has ignored the question asked of him about viewing the video”.

    I would have thought that anyone who has given my posts on this thread a skim or even a casual read would understand my motivation for participating. I have not written a word in favor of the circus nor have I written a word condemning the circus.

    I entered this thread to support Kate. Kate had been called out by someone who I know to be a duplicitous hypocrite and I wanted to make certain that Kate and others who read here know who and what he is.

    Further, I wanted to support the right Kate has to make her own CHOICE about the attending the circus and speak out against those who would take that choice away from her and have government decide for her and for all of us if there should or should not be a circus.

    Choice is something lots of people pay lip service to but those same people are often quick to abandon the very concept of choice when their own sensibilities and beliefs are challenged. Choice is fine as long as you agree with them but when you don’t, they will make every effort to legislate that choice right out from under you.

    My opinion about the circus generally or the clip specifically are irrelevant!!

    What is relevant is the right of adult citizens in this country to make their own decisions about what they and their families choose as entertainment.

    For those of you who believe you can interfere with that choice based on your own sensibilities … look out.

    You’re in for a fight.

    And remember, there were but a handful of sign carrying elitists on Pearl St. There were tens of thousands of people inside the TUC.

  33. #38 BL – Me too!!!!
    I’m crackin up at that very welcome comment in the midst of the arguments.

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