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Questioning Circus's `Entertainment' Status

It is with great disappointment that I read the endorsement of the Big Apple Circus (``Circus, Musical Offer Family Fun for the New York Holiday Season,'' Nov. 19).

Colorful balloons and laughing clowns hide the ugly reality of violence, deprivation, and captivity that circus animals endure. Such animals live in cramped, often-filthy cages without adequate food or clean water. There is no guarantee that veterinarians qualified to treat exotic animals will be present to provide proper care.

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By the time families sit ringside to watch unnatural and demeaning tricks, such as bears balancing on balls or elephants standing on two legs, these animals are likely to have already suffered the pain of electric prods, muzzles, and whips. Some animals are drugged and others have had their teeth removed to make them more ``manageable.'' Physical punishment has long been the standard training method in circuses.

The ``Big Top'' is big business. The animals, treated as unfeeling commodities, are often sold to game farms, where they will be shot for ``recreation'' or ``exotic meat,'' or sold to research laboratories when they have outlived their performing ``usefulness.''

Circuses teach us absolutely nothing about how animals truly live and behave in their natural habitats.

Let's teach children the values of respect and compassion by not being a party to cruelty and exploitation. Sandee Pyne, Washington People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

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