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Commenters
are in an uproar as a video of Mafa, an endangered white rhino forced to
perform in a Russian circus, circulates on social media.

Entertainment

The rhino –
technically classed as ‘near-threatened’ with roughly 20,000 remaining globally
– serves as entertainment, performing ‘tricks’ physically enforced by his
handler.

Dr. Chris
Draper, of wildlife charity Born Free, told the Independent:
“To see the animal
in this circumstance when you’ve seen one in the wild is utterly incongruent.

“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?”

Risks

Dr. Draper
explained that, with their ‘naturally nervous and impulsive nature’, keeping a
rhino in these conditions poses a threat to humans as well.

He said
that, in the absence of a ‘substantial barrier’, Mafa could hurt his ‘trainer’ or spectators.

Mafa is shown moving away from his ‘trainer’ in this YouTube video of the circus act

‘Lazy
exploitation’

Most Facebook
users responded negatively to the ordeal.

One wrote: “Lazy
exploitation. When will these animal abusers have to start making their own
money on their own labor, not the animals suffering?”

Another asked: “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?”

‘Bleeding
hearts’

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 buffolos and camels, he looks cared for [sic].”

Emily Court

Emily Court is a writer and content creator published in Plant Based News, Raise Vegan, Living Vegan and The Financial Diet. A self-described "recovering vegan hothead," she is now a pragmatic member of Vancouver's vibrant and growing plant-powered community. Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she holds a BA in Spanish and certificate in Intercultural Communication from Dalhousie University, where her thesis focused on topics of cultural and gender-based discrimination....