Although many in the city found it humorous, the incident of two zebras fleeing the circus on Sunday, November 15th reminded us that there can be some serious injuries for those who work at and attend circuses. The zebras fled the UniverSoul Circus outside the Mann Center for Performing Arts and were eventually safely recaptured. In another incident last month, one of UniverSoul’s trapeze artists fell into the crowd during a performance and is still recovering from a serious lower back injury suffered during the fall.
Using Animals in Circuses Can Cause Injury
Outside of Philadelphia, incidents with circus animals have had dire consequences. Many remember the tragedy of Tyke the elephant who, after many years of abuse in circuses, killed her trainer and then ran through the streets, crushing people and cars. Often the only thing that can be done to prevent further human injury is to shoot the animal, and this is usually after a certain amount of damage has already been done.
In fact, these incidents are not that rare. Estimates claim that at least 500 people are killed by elephants alone every year. Many of these animals are simply unsuited to be kept in a circus environment, but in an effort to increase profits they are kept and can cause employees and sometimes bystanders to be severely injured or killed because it is so difficult to maintain them in these settings.
In order to get animals to perform in circuses, trainers tend to use forceful methods such as bull hooks, electric prods, and other tools to force the large wild animals to perform their routines. Mothers and babies are forced apart so that the babies can be trained from a young age and all often travel long distances in small cages, resulting in frustrated and/or sick animals. Many will injure themselves and people while attempting to escape the conditions that they are kept in, resulting in injuries to the trainers and in some cases members of the public.
While some acting as independent contractors may sign away liability for their injuries or death, these contracts are still sometimes challenged in court as being contrary to public policy.
In one of the most notorious incidents that resulted in injury to employees, eight Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performers were seriously injured in a 35-foot fall last year, resulting in paralysis and multiple fractures. Often these daring acts of entertainment rely on one specific structure to stay together, but when there is a malfunction, people are harmed and sometimes killed.
Philadelphia Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Attorneys
Solnick & Associates LLC, based in Philadelphia and serving surrounding areas such as Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties, as well as New Jersey, is equipped to handle any personal injury (and/or wrongful death case). Contact us today for a free consultation. We will do what is necessary to help you with your loss.