On Sunday Central Park will be hosting yet another of these repulsive events. The very first time I attended one of these things was back in 2001 when I first met Charles Kennedy. I remember being there on the Great Lawn (the event is now held on the East Meadow) with my film cameras and not being able to take a single frame as I watched those beautiful creatures caged and tethered. I also watched the men and even women handle those birds with their cold eyes and authoritative ways.
I wonder what it’s like for Palemale and Lola to watch dozens of raptors suddenly appear in their home. I wonder if any thought goes into how our resident hawks feel when events like these are arranged.
I get the feeling that people who are entertained by these circuses tend to believe that the wild brothers and sisters of these captive animals are also willing to jump through hoops of fire to delight crowds all over the world. I wonder how many people realize that most owls are supposed to be asleep during the day and not parading around Central Park with chains on their feet putting ideas into children’s minds that it’ll be ‘cool’ to have one as a pet.
When these circus owners boast of how they rescue many animals from accidents, how many of them actually address the accidents which caused the problem in the first place--like gunshot wounds, automobile collisions, oil spills etc.
I wonder how many balloons Central Park will use to adorn this circus event on Sunday.
I attended a few of these Falconry circuses in Central Park and I know that there is hardly any educational content--it’s organized mostly for entertainment.
At the 2004 event in Central Park on the East Meadow I saw a little child sticking out of the crowd hardly with his tiny body but more so with his clear voice. Somewhere in Belgium there is a box filled with Mini-DV cassettes, one of which has the little boy’s exact words recorded. I cannot recall those words and I do not wish to corrupt them now, but this little six-year-old child reassured me that others were seeing what I was seeing;
“Free those birds!” his little voice rang out. I approached his mother soon after and had a refreshing conversation with her. With Mom’s permission I also interviewed the boy and his little happy sister who chimed right in with her support to free the tethered, caged up birds.
When I say it my words can be interpreted to be those of a madman, but when words and thoughts like those comes freely from a child I know that the Universe is listening.