Footage of endangered white rhino being forced to parade and perform tricks in a Russian circus spurs social media outrage
When you think of critically endangered animals, the white rhino is probably one of the top choices in that category. And in recent news, it has been reported that a white rhino is being held captive and made to perform tricks in a Russian circus. It is widely known there is a very small population of rhinos surviving outside of national parks due to poaching and loss of habitat. Out of the prominent rhino species on the planet currently, the Javan and Sumatran rhinos, are critically endangered, while the northern white rhinos are said to be on the brink of extinction.
According to a recent report by UNILAD, a circus in Russia has been training a white rhino called Mafa to perform tricks in the ring, which has led to a huge backlash from activists and humans worldwide. The video footage of the rhino performing tricks inside the circus ring also has enraged social media users all over the world. Internet users all over the world were furious when they came across a video footage of a rhino being forced to parade, carry a man on its back in a circus ring in Russia, and being prodded by his ringmaster's whip time and again. This comes as quite a shock since animals such as rhinos have rarely been seen in circuses.
And even though rhinos are scarcely seen in circus acts, it is only in the recent past that a lot of other animals are being gradually phased out due to years of protest about the cruel training and unnatural living conditions they’re forced to endure. The video clip from the Russian State Circus shows the rhino being made to perform acts like sitting, and having the trainer climb onto its back while walking around the ring.
In the small video clip, the poor animal is seen turning away from the trainer as he approaches with the whip, which is visible proof of the horrible training that it must have been put through in order to perform tricks in the circus. In another clip of what is believed to be the same animal from the Safari Circus in Moscow, the rhino is seen hesitating a few times before setting off.
Chris Draper, of the Born Free wildlife charity, spoke to The Independent saying: "It could quickly cause injury to the trainer, and if there isn’t a substantial barrier, to the public as well. However well trained as it is, rhinos are naturally nervous and impulsive. To see the animal in this circumstance when you’ve seen one in the wild is utterly incongruent." He also added later, "Not only is it being exposed to substantial noise, but the use of the whip is wrong. They would say it doesn’t hurt, but if that’s the case, why use it at all?"
Social media viewers were also livid as they questioned the whole ordeal the animal was going through. One commented: "What is your kid supposed to learn from seeing an animal being taken outside of its natural habitat for the fun of people? How is that making him or her a future better person?"
Many petitions have been raised regarding stopping this sort of activities with the rhino. One petition states: "If it's not poachers or trophy hunters persecuting Rhinos, the 'Great Moscow Circus is forcing a Rhino to perform as so-called 'entertainment' to screaming crowds. Please SIGN & SHARE to tell them that Rhinos belong in the WILD, NOT circuses"
As per reports, there is another video of the rhino's trainer Sergey Nesterov, where he speaks about how he sleeps next to the animal and only leaves it when he has to eat, saying "this way it got used to people". He also said that it took the circus company a year to arrange the paperwork to transport Mafa from South Africa.
However, there were also a few who commented in support of the circus. One wrote: "Would the bleeding hearts prefer that it be released into the wild, where it'll survive for about a day before being killed by poachers?" Another wrote: "I ride my horse same way and same kind training. It's a rare wild rhino obviously trust its trainer to do all this at liberty. After seeing other animals ridden like this buffaloes and camels, he looks cared for [sic]."