Remember Crush of the Month Lindsey Pearlman? Well, she’s a crush with a conscience. Pearlman loves animals--from the pampered pups her dog care company walks and cares for to the elephants of Thailand for which Pearlman traveled thousands of miles to donate her time. Recently she discovered that Groupon is offering a family four pack of tickets to the George Carden Circus Spectacular.
Says Pearlman, “unlike the image the public receives of circuses - filled with cotton candy, clowns, and happy performing animals - the reality behind the facade is one of torture, sadness, and pain.”
Since the Groupon deal went up, Pearlman’s facebook feed has been a frenzied montage of anti-cruelty petitions, late night links to disturbing youtube video of mistreated elephants and descriptions of her effort to compel Groupon to discontinue their circus deal--this is a woman on a mission.
I’m turning today’s blog over to Pearlman for her take on the situation.
Pearlman on circus animals: “Circus animals are trained as babies under the constant threat and application of physical punishment. (How else do you get a six-ton wild animal to perform painful, joint-shredding "tricks"? Not through positive reinforcement. Through pain and intimidation!) Bullhooks are the most common tool to cause physical pain and punish. When not performing, [animals] are on chains for days on end, or in transport from town to town. These sensitive, intelligent animals are not meant for domestication. The situation has become desperate and public education is necessary to bring circuses to an end."
Pearlman on the circus’s impact on children: “Children who watch these performances learn that it is acceptable to force another living creature to do something that is stressful, and often even painful, as long as it serves the purpose of entertainment. This mindset will carry over into their relationships with people, and it will not serve them well in life.”
Pearlman on the George Carden Circus Spectacular: “The USDA is limited in what they can monitor, but many infractions of this particular circus have been cited over the last 20 years. The elephants used in this circus are in terrible condition. One piece of video evidence shows Bo, the star of their show, exhibiting a swaying behavior. This behavior occurs when the elephants are unable to do what they do naturally - walk through a forest for over 30 miles a day with their family, forage, and have their social needs met."
Pearlman on Groupon: “Over 650 people purchased this deal. I contacted Groupon immediately, and began providing information regarding the business they were promoting. For the past six days, I have been working to convince them to remove the deal, refund the money, and take this opportunity to help these animals receive the public awareness they deserve. Because Groupon is such a popular source of consumer interest, their voice is invaluable. I believe this is a great opportunity for Groupon to come out of this with a boosted public image."
Pearlman on her protest: “On the fifth day of unsuccessfully trying to contact Groupon, we stood quietly on the sidewalk outside their offices with signs and pamphlets to hand to any interested passers-by. A Groupon rep finally approached and spoke with me. She explained how Groupon chooses or rejects potential businesses to promote. All businesses, she told me, are subjected to multiple levels of scrutiny in their vetting process. Groupon checks to see that their business licenses are current, taxes are paid, and looks into any criminal history or questionable practices. It is profoundly disturbing to me that George Carden Circus Spectacular whose list of infractions is lengthy, somehow slipped through."
Pearlman on her petition: “I have created a petition, asking Groupon to pull the deal. The petition is signed only by people who pledge to end their relationship with Groupon if the company does not follow through. This [Groupon offer] a tragic mistake, but can have a beneficial outcome. Groupon, pull the deal, refund the money, and explain to the consumer why. Many people are unaware of the realities of circuses. Once they become educated [I believe they will] decide they do not wish to give their hard-earned money to such a sad industry. Groupon can help us spread the word and make a statement. 650 families of four are reachable through Groupon, and the ripple effect is immeasurable. This can only serve to inspire consumers; the ethical choice is the best choice."
To join in Pearlman’s fight sign her petition here.
UPDATE: To view Groupon's response go here.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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