Animal rights activist Lynn Gallagher and a small group of eastern Iowa residents continue to make a difference on behalf of animals in captivity, battling both the Johnson County Rodeo and several circuses that take place in Cedar Rapids.
More specifically, Lynn Gallagher is opposed to some key practices at these “animals as entertainment” traditions:
- Calf roping, especially at youth rodeos
- Elephant riding – a practice that is supposed to be banned statewide but that some county fairs continued. They included the Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport, which just ended elephant rides last year
- The use of elephant hooks at circuses during elephant performances
Gallagher organizes protests in Johnson and Linn counties, and regularly writes letters outlining her opposition to entertainment traditions that use animals to entertain.
She led a group that protested at the Johnson County budget discussions in January, toting signs in the freezing cold about teh rodeo that takes place in the blistering heat of summer.
She called attention to a bill that would have made elephant rides legal again in Iowa, which banned them in 2007. And in early April, Gallagher led a group that fought successfully to end the use of elephant hooks during circuses.
She called attention to a bill that would have made elephant rides legal again in Iowa, which banned them in 2007. And in early April., Gallagher led a group of 16 to protest circuses held in Linn County.
In a recent letter to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Gallagher questioned why Linn County still allows circuses when Iowa City, Ames, Burlington and 92 other cities nationwide across 32 states; the entire states of New Jersey and Hawaii; and 33 European countries ban wild animals in circuses.
Illinois bans elephants in traveling circuses specifically, labeling them to be in violation of the Federal Animal Welfare Act.
Gallagher is specifically concerned about VenuWorks and the El Kahir Shrine.
“These animals live miserable lives of confinement,” Gallagher wrote. “They are trained using violence, intimidation and fear. Cruelty is not entertainment and it should no longer be tolerated.”
She led a group that protested at the Johnson County budget discussions in January, toting signs in the freezing cold about an event that takes place in the blistering heat of summer.
More and more communities are waking up to the plight of animals in circuses and rodeos. On April 10, a group gathered in Sioux City to protest the Abu Bekr Shrine circus there. The group is also pushing for a statewide ban on elephant hooks.
Last June, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recorded an elephant handler with Carden Bros. in Dubuque at the Five Seasons Center jabbing the huge beasts with sharp hooks and filed animal abuse charges against him, reports the Telegraph Herald.
Gallagher says Iowa’s awakening to the plight of animals used as entertainment is overdue. “My goal is to stop animal exploitation for entertainment,” she says. “My larger goal is for people to change their perceptions of animals. We need to have more respect for them and understand that they are very, very similar to us.
“They have very similar emotions and needs. They want to live with their families and friends and they want to be free from suffering. They want to be able to express their natural behaviors.”