Cruel To Animals


On Thursday, Oct. 2, the Manhasset Rotary Club sponsored the Zerbini Family Circus at Memorial Field. I appreciate so much the efforts by community members to plan and create charitable events that make Manhasset such a wonderful, family-friendly place to live. However, I was saddened to see a circus that includes animals welcomed here. Behind the flashy circus acts and camel rides, most circus animals, including dogs, elephants, bears, monkeys and cats, live dismal lives full of isolation, intimidation and fear. It is standard practice to train circus animals through beatings, whippings and electric shocks. According to the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA), “Former circus employees have reported seeing animals beaten, whipped and denied food and water, all to force them to learn their routines. Animals are taught that not obeying the trainer will result in physical abuse.” One can simply Google or YouTube “circus animal abuse” and see firsthand the cruelty associated with animal circuses generally.
The Zerbini Family Circus in particular has been repeatedly cited for animal neglect. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Victoria, British Columbia inspected the Zerbini Circus and noted that the majority of Zerbini’s horses had “lacerations, abrasions or scars from old injuries,” the monkey cages were so small the monkeys could not stand on their hind legs (and so were forced in a crouched position), and that the Zerbini Circus told the inspector that dogs and monkeys were kept in their cages at all times (where they had no access to food or water) unless they were performing. The Zerbini Circus has also repeatedly been cited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for violations of the minimum guidelines set by the Animal Welfare Act (despite the USDA’s notoriously lax enforcement.) According to PETA, these violations include keeping elephants without adequate space and chained, not having a program of veterinary care in place for its animals, the failure to quarantine elephants texting positive for tuberculosis, the failure to provide an adequate barrier between the elephants and the public, the failure to provide elephants with a wholesome and healthy diet, the failure to dispose of waste in a sanitary manner, and the failure to provide veterinary care to suffering animals in their care. One elephant trainer at the Zerbini Family Circus reported that their elephants had been beaten badly by drunken trainers. This stress and abuse endured by the Zerbini Circus animals has also led to human injuries, including a deadly trampling by an elephant, stomping and biting by elephants, and a biting of a 2 year-old child by a bear.
There are so many excellent and cruelty-free alternatives to animal circuses that I hope the Rotary Club will consider for next year which feature human-only talent and incorporate trapeze, clowns, acrobatics, juggling, contortion, magic, dance, aerial work, vaudeville, comedy and cabaret. It would be a shame to continue to support the Zerbini Family Circus, an operation with a history of cruelty to and neglect of the very animals that support its business.
Dana L. Cavallaro Dignam


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