AnimalsInEntertainmentAndSports
Issue Background

Animals In Entertainment And Sports

Over thousands of years, humans developed myriad relationships with animals: horses, cattle, sheep, goats, elephants, monkeys, dogs, and more were put to an endless list of uses, from transportation, guardians, hunting companions and food sources, to construction workers, flea traps, vermin killers; the list goes on.

These purely practical and historically significant relationships changed as civilization evolved and knowledge grew. Gradually, motor vehicles replaced draft and carriage animals, scientists created chemical pesticides, the primeval fear of predators gave way to awe at their beauty and their place in nature, and civilization led to animal welfare laws against bear and bull baiting and finally against dog fighting.

Today, we love our pets as family members, engage in or watch a variety of sports, displays, and performances that feature animals (many of them based on the needs and amusements of the past) as both spectators and participants. From falconry to horse racing and rodeos, dog shows to carriage rides, historical farms and exhibits to modern zoos and circuses, we enjoy the animals and the skills of trainers who adapt natural behaviors to a variety of purposes and generate a closeness with non-human creatures that leads to humane care and conservation.

Those who continue these traditions fall into a broad range of categories. Some are for-profit businesses such as horse racing stables, carriage liveries, circuses, rodeos, private zoos, and stage acts. Others are non-profit zoos, historical farms, and educational facilities. Still others are hobbyists who revere animals and their place in history and participate in re-enactments and other events. Each of these groups has their own devotion to their charges and they all enrich our lives by maintaining the human-animal connection.

Many of these businesses, organizations, and animal hobby groups are under attack by activist organizations, some well-meaning, some not. These organizations orchestrate public policy campaigns and file lawsuits against circuses, horse-drawn carriage companies, horse and dog competitions, stage acts, roadside zoos, and private ownership of exotic animals regardless of the quality of care the animals receive.

NAIA takes a different tack. We salute the kind and caring owners and caretakers who love the animals that share their lives while we support the conscientious use of animals for sport and entertainment. We believe that people who wish to partake of a carriage ride on city streets, witness the majesty of a trained circus elephant, or see dozens of breeds of dogs at a show should have the opportunity to feast their eyes, hearts and minds on these expressions of the human-animal connection – to get as close as possible to the hands-on bond and relationship experienced by the animal owners, handlers and hobbyists. We also believe that dependable animal owners, breeders, trainers, and caretakers should be able to practice a hobby or pursue a sports or entertainment career that brings joy to them and to those who witness their activities.