By LARRY WOODY
For the record, I don't own an elephant, and I haven't seen a circus in years -- not counting watching the U.S. Senate on C-Span.
So when it comes to the recent decision by the Ringling Brothers Circus to end its elephant acts under pressure by animal-rights activists, I don't have a dog in the fight. (Note to the animal-righters: don't swoon. It's just an expression.)
Sentimentally, I kinda hate to see the elephant recall. Parading pachyderms have delighted kiddies for many generations.
On the other hand, I feel a certain amount of elephant empathy. Like them, I've worked for peanuts most of my life.
However, the thing that gripes me about the animal-rights movement is it discriminates among species. The animal-righters pick and choose according to the "cute factor."
They get in a dither over protecting cuddly baby fur seals, for example, but don't seem at all concerned about the plight of the African mole rat.
If you're not familiar with the African mole rat it's because it's not exactly a PETA poster boy. It's a hairless, sightless, wrinkle-skinned rat that eats grubs and uses its giant yellow fangs to dig underground burrows.
It's a repulsive-looking little critter that only a mother African mole rat could love.
That explains why it doesn't get any attention from PETA or other animal-rights zealots. It doesn't meet the "cuddly" threshold. Don't look for Paris Hilton to be carrying around an African mole rat anytime soon.
Yet an African mole rat has the same feelings as a baby fur seal, a circus elephant or Rosie O'Donnell.
Com'on animal-righters, give the little fellow some love. And don't forget the intestinal tape worm and the Madagascar dung beetle. (How about this motto: "Give a Bug a Hug?")
Emboldened by their elephant-sized victory, the animal-righters can now look for something else to whine about; fleas for example.
Remember flea circuses? Fleas "performed" by pulling tiny carts and playing miniature, musical instruments.
Of course the fleas weren't actually performing; they were just hoping around, being fleas. They were harnessed to the cart and glued to the saxophone.
One flea circus historian spilled the sordid beans on flea-gate: "The fleas were not trained, and typically lived for only a few days."
That's deplorable. Where's the animal-rights angst?
Granted, fleas are somewhat easier to overlook than elephants, but it's a perfect example of how PETF (People for the Ethical Treatment of Fleas) is badly needed.
I'm not sure how flea-protection would be enforced. Ringling Brothers and its elephants was an easy target. How would PETF exert similar pressure to protect fleas? It would be hard to monitor every flea-bag on the block.
Take my old Lab Buddy for example. Not a day goes by he doesn't scratch at least one or two parts of his anatomy...usually embarrassing parts in front of company.