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Blog: the elephant tears of the circus

Today is World Circus Day. A day when we think of all the animals that are still exploited for something that people used to call entertainment. Most EU member states introduced limitation on circus performances with animals, but not yet all of them. In The Netherlands, circuses are not allowed to have wild animals since 2015. Back then, only one wild animal remained: elephant Buba. Because there was no suitable sanctuary for her yet, the responsible minister granted Circus Freiwald a temporary permit. But at the end of 2020, the time had finally come for Buba too. Following the advice of experts, the minister decided that the 45-year-old female elephant could go to the new Elephant Haven sanctuary in France.

Unfortunately, Buba’s bosses refused to let her go. They did, however, tell a few members of parliament that Buba could no longer be placed with other elephants because she has been traveling with the family from an early age. Elephants live in herds and “Buba considered the Freiwald family her herd.”

A majority of the House of Representatives turned out to be more sensitive to the elephant tears of the circus family than the advice of experts. The elephant would die of loneliness if she had to go to the elephant sanctuary and we couldn’t let that happen. Buba was family, inseparable from the circus. Whoever wanted to separate the two, like those frigid, self-righteous animal welfare people, was a criminal. The minister accepted two adopted motions and voilà; Buba was allowed to stay with the Freiwalds forever. Without any performances, although the line was repeatedly crossed.

Just over a year later, Buba is rejected by her loving herd after all. Because Buba costs too much money, she is sold to the dubious Kimba Elefánt Park in Hungary. There, the elephant has to perform with her new boss, young circus artist René Casselly. Could Buba now be placed with other elephants all of a sudden? In response to parliamentary questions by the Party for the Animals, the current minister admitted this week that he was not happy with the state of affairs. But it’s too late for Buba. Another victim of credulity and a symbol of the suffering of animals in circuses all over the world. The Freiwalds say they have said goodbye with pain in their hearts. Money trumped family ties.

Is this the end of the story? That remains to be seen; a circus industry website wrote that the Dutch ban on wild animals in circuses has been overturned by a judge. Recognizing that you have been overtaken by progress is hard. As is telling the truth apparently, because the circus ban is fortunately still in place. On World Circus Day we once again argue for a world without wild animals in the circus.

Animal Rights
Bite Back
Animal Coalition 
World Animal Protection NL

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