Ringling Unwelcome in Portland

September 8th, 2010 by Doll Stanley


As anyone who has done protests will tell you, circus demos can be the most difficult. Parents are on guard because they’re with their kids. They’re out for a day of fun and are suddenly confronted with protesters, perhaps where they’d least expect protesters to be. What could be more wholesome than the circus?¬†Unfortunately, circuses with animals are far from wholesome. The animals who travel with these circuses are trucked or taken by train from city to city, spending the majority of their time in chains (elephants) or tight confinement (the other animals) when not being forced to perform completely unnatural and painful acts. So when we found out that Ringling Bros. Circus was heading to Portland for the Labor Day weekend, we were motivated to try and get as many compassionate folks out as we could to help educate Ringling’s patrons.

Ringling has a long history of animal abuse and neglect – everything from animal deaths to a list USDA violations a mile long. The most recent developments in Ringling’s long history of abuse are an undercover investigation¬† which showed Ringling beating elephants and other animals, and recently released, never before seen photos of Ringling abusing baby elephants.

Portland is a city of compassionate, animal-loving people. It’s a progressive town with no tolerance for abuse of any kind and this protest of circus animal abuse was certainly right in line with this city’s values. We mobilized through Facebook and e-mail and on opening night had the largest crowd ever at a circus demo in Portland – 80 people. It was inspiring. And we weren’t done there – all of the protests we held throughout the weekend were well attended – tripling the numbers of folks we had at last year’s demos.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to come out and help. Someone asked me on Sunday if I thought we were truly making a difference, and I responded that if we were absent, we certainly wouldn’t be, but I do believe these peaceful shows of force do make a difference and hopefully plant a seed of compassion in even the most hardened circus supporter.

11 Responses to “Ringling Unwelcome in Portland”

  1. April 15, 2013 at 4:55 am, Harrison Alberto said:

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  2. September 08, 2010 at 7:21 pm, Brenda Hixenbaugh said:

    Congradulations on a sucessful demo. I usually can’t attend any demostrations so I consentrate on getting the word out to others that might be able to go. Thank you so very much.


  3. September 08, 2010 at 6:58 pm, Hart Ryan Noecker said:

    I was proud to be able to photograph so many compassionate, brave activists who weren’t afraid to expose the savage truth of the animal confinement industry. Portland is indeed a beautiful city, and anyone who thinks it’s not one of the cleanest should visit Houston or Atlanta.

    And not to stereotype, but from the amount of overweight individuals lined up to patronize this sick display of cruelty looked far more like the kind of Good Americans you’d find in cities like those. Many of them pointed and laughed at the protesters as they walked by. Expanding empathy for all sentient creatures could not seem a more foolish an enterprise for people like that. Most did the best they could to look the other way, trying to avoid the guilt of what they were participating in.

    But there were many decent people who were truly ignorant of the abuse these magnificent animals suffer, and reluctantly stopped and watched the video display, talked with some of the protesters, walked away with fliers. Most of them still went inside, but hopefully they weren’t able to get the images of torture out of their heads for the duration of the show. If anything, some damn good seeds were planted. There were children led inside for two hours of mindless fun who were asking questions of their parents, no doubt about it.

    Here’s hoping the shame of what Ringling Brothers does to animals draws out even more people of conscience the next time this horror show rolls into town.


  4. September 08, 2010 at 6:43 pm, lo blorklund said:

    Bless all of you… we can’t allow animals to suffer and be caged in captivity just solely for money. There are many ways to showcase animals and introduce them to children… but NOT at the expense of that animals well being.Even children are so sensitive… if they knew for a second what happens to that animal after it leaves the stage… they would protest… maybe THAT IS what needs to happen to shut these circuses down once and for all…?


  5. September 08, 2010 at 2:14 pm, Stacy said:

    I know that this may not be important to anyone but me, someone who is from New England and living in Oregon now, but doesn’t ANYONE in the media think that there are TWO Portland’s in this country? Not anywhere in this article did it say Portland OREGON. It could’ve been in Maine for all we know. Now is the time to go and look up where the other Portland’s are and then make some stupid remark about how there are LOTS of Portland’s, but everyone KNOWS that when “Portland” comes up, we’re talkin Oregon so quit bitchin’. Well, I’m a little peeved about that assumption. Portland is not the capital of Oregon, NOR is it the capitol of Maine, but they are both important hubs to each region. SPECIFY PLEASE!


  6. September 08, 2010 at 11:05 am, urbancritter said:

    @Natasha, so great to know that some information helped you see what these circuses will go to great lengths to hide! I believe most people don’t want to promote or be a party to animal abuse, and when they learn the truth they can’t un-learn it. Maybe it motivates them to change, and each person who does make that change makes all the work worth it. And even if they do continue their behaviors from before (eg consume Dairy, eggs etc, use products tested on animals), they do it with a kernel of knowledge in the back of their mind that might one day blossom and help them connect the dots. At some point, for some people, the cognitive dissonance gets to the point where you HAVE to change your behaviors to align with your values. It’s that simple.


  7. September 08, 2010 at 10:39 am, Jaya Savannah said:

    Portland is such a lovely city. So friendly and clean. Circuses don’t fit with your typical Portland resident’s values, just like they don’t fit the values of the San Francisco Bay Area (where I’m from.) The sad irony is that people who go to the circus do so because they love animals. Hard watching their embarrassed reactions when crossing a protest line. Most look down and go in anyway. Hopefully they look into the issue after the show and choose to not go anymore. Thank you to the good people of Portland who made the effort to protest! Go team.


    • September 08, 2010 at 11:01 am, sza said:

      portland is cool, but clean? well i dont know where you were at, maybe in rich areas but where i live there is trash everywhere. but portland is very green oriented which i like, lots of recycling, public transport etc etc…

      i was at this protest and i am glad i could help.


      • September 08, 2010 at 4:25 pm, Jaya Savannah said:

        Really? I haven’t been there in 6 years. I’m pretty well traveled and at the time thought Portland was a step above in that regard. I hope it’s still friendly! You certainly make it seem so. : )


        • September 08, 2010 at 9:23 pm, sza said:

          thanks! yes it’s still friendly, and i am sure there are some nice and clean neighborhoods, and it also depends which city youre comparing it too :)


  8. September 08, 2010 at 10:37 am, Natasha said:

    It does make a difference. I had no idea about animal abuse and circuses until 3 years ago and I am 30! It was a campaign by IDA that I came across that has changed everything I believed about circuses and animals in captivity (as well as many other issues). KEEP IT UP!!!


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