Woody: PETA rains on circus parade

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The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has folded its tent after 146 years, due to pressure from animal-rights activists upset over elephants being forced to work for peanuts.

Plus, the elephants didn't have a good retirement plan, dental insurance, and company stock options. Not only that, but according to PETA, they occasionally got poked with a stick. Most of us can identify with that; we've been poked with sticks -- at least figuratively speaking -- most of our lives.

PETA believes elephants should be allowed to roam free on the savannah where they will eventually be snared by ivory poachers or eaten alive by snarling packs of hyenas.

In contrast, circus elephants were fed tons of delicious hay and veggies, pretty ladies rode on their backs, and they got to lounge around in the mud between acts.

(Notice, the elephants didn't get to vote on the circus closing.)

So now the pachyderms have packed their trunks and are headed off to the Old Elephants Retirement Home. There they will sit around all day watching Dumbo re-runs, complaining about their swollen ankles and griping because their kids never come to visit.

I don't have a dog in the fight -- or an elephant in the ring -- but it's kinda sad to see the circus ending after all these years.

Think of all the sunbeam smiles the circus has brought to the faces of little tykes around the world, the squeals of laugher and excitement, the wheezing gasps from parents when they see the price of tickets ...

When I heard about the circus folding, my first concern was for the fellow who walks behind elephants during parades carrying a shovel and a bucket. Looks like his show biz career is over.

Then there's all the displaced circus clowns. Imagine how hard it will be for them to re-enter the work force when all they can list on their resume is "Clown." (A prospective employer, when asked for a job by a clown, will say, "Don't make me laugh.")

Or crack one of several other corny jokes:

What did the cops say when they arrested the clown? "Don't try anything funny."

What did the cannibal say after sampling a clown in the cooking pot? "Hummmm. Tastes funny."

The same goes for trapeze artists. Without a circus there's not much demand for someone in their line of work. They're probably not going to be hired by a major Wall Street brokerage firm looking for someone to hang upside down from a trapeze wearing sparkling leotards.

And what does an animal trainer do when there are no animals to train? He might find employment at one of our public schools, although compared to cracking a whip over growling lions and tigers, he might find teaching in public schools too dangerous.

Nobody can deny that there was always something exciting and romantic about a circus. (I doubt that any little kid ever dreamed about running away from home and joining H&R Block.)

Now it's all over -- no more Big Tops, no more parades, no more trained elephants. The final curtain has fallen on the Greatest Show.

Thanks a lot PETA. It's enough to break an artichoke's heart.

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Larry Woody
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