Sir, Ms Fox (March 6th), among others, has chosen to attack circuses on the issue of perceived captivity and cruelty. The circus makes an easy and unnecessary target. What is so wrong with a camel working in a circus? Many work for a living in their native countries, as do elephants. Dogs, cats and horses perform for the public in Ireland at various well attended shows.
Purists will argue that it is degrading for big cats such as tigers to entertain. This of course is based on the notion that big cats belong only in the wild. But dog, cat and horse ancestors were once found only in the wild.
Unfortunately, few of us can afford camera safaris in exotic locations. Therefore, most children will get their only close-up view of these magnificent animals when a circus is in town. Surely this is more enlightening than tapping on the barriers at a zoo in an attempt to stir them into movement. A positive experience is likely to heighten interest in the precarious future many carnivores now face in the wild.
If Ms Fox and company wish to improve animal welfare in Ireland, I suggest they begin with the Irish public's treatment of animals. I suggest two potential campaigns. Firstly, all people without gardens should be prevented from owning dogs as pets, since by definition these dogs are captive. Secondly, special control units should be set up to cull any cats observed not wearing bells to help protect our wild birds. Such a politically incorrect campaign may not be of interest of course, since it affects too many people and might incur too much criticism. Perhaps indeed, it would be better to stick to trying to ban minority groups whose activities are deemed morally unacceptable by others. Wait now, don't they ban that kind of behaviour in most democratic countries? - Yours, etc.,
Conor O'Gorman, Douglas, Cork.