Senate Bill 1342, which would prohibit elephants in circuses and traveling shows in Illinois, has passed the Illinois House with a 91-14 vote, after a unanimous vote in the Illinois Senate.  Now it heads to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is taking its final bow this weekend, closing after 146 years.  Ringling realized that public attitudes have progressed and the majority of Americans don’t want animal suffering as part of their entertainment.

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Carson & Barnes Circus, which was fined $16,000 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for an incident in 2014 where three elephants escaped from handlers, is now urging the governor to veto this bill. Carson & Barnes has also been cited by the USDA for using a bullhook with “excessive force,” repeated failure to provide adequate veterinary care to a thin elephant who had lost hundreds of pounds and repeated failure to safely handle and maintain control of elephants. Why should our state take advice from a business that routinely breaks the law and violates the Animal Welfare Act?

Elephants don’t stand on two legs in nature, they surely don’t want to be chained all day or transported in boxcars from city to city and they definitely don’t want to be struck by sharp bullhooks. Of course, there are also the dangers of tuberculosis, which can be spread from elephants to humans. Three Illinois circus elephants died in the 1990’s from tuberculosis. Of the elephant handlers who were tested in that situation, half tested positive for TB.

Gov. Rauner, please sign Senate Bill 1342 and help protect elephants and the citizens of Illinois and make the Land of Lincoln a more humane place.

Jodie Wiederkehr
Chicago Alliance for Animals

Remember horror of war on Memorial Day

I’m an Army infantry veteran of the U.S. war against the people of Vietnam.  For me, war means finality, barbarity, ignorance, ugliness, inhumanity and the destruction of plants, animals, people and Earth. Chicago will celebrate this Memorial Day with the largest parade in the nation, but it should be a somber event, remembering those who died in war, not an advertisement for the military.

Our government spends almost $700 million in tax dollars each year advertising the military and, subtly, promoting war.  The words freedom, security, duty, honor, proud, democracy and others enter our psyche and are woven into our culture  Chicago’s Memorial Day parade features young people dressed in military clothing, some carrying mock weapons, proudly and unknowingly advertising the military and the havoc of war.

On this Memorial Day, think about war. Think about the death and destruction it causes.  Think about the barbarity. Think about those who died in war – all of them, on all sides. There are options – but you won’t find them in the military ads or in Chicago’s parade.

Arnold Stieber, Kenwood

Who do so few donate blood?

As a blood donor who has given 217 times, I can assure everyone that my health was never jeopardized because of those 27 gallons. And I will turn 80 in a few days. So, I am puzzled that there are so few healthy adults who donate for the patients in our hospitals.

Maybe they don’t realize that one of every seven patients will require a transfusion. Or perhaps they are gambling that they will never need “the gift of life” following an emergency and that blood will always be on hand. For them, here is a little-known fact of life: Fewer than 10 per cent of healthy and eligible Americans donate blood. That means the other 90 per cent have to depend on those few who contribute.

Carl Panek, Westchester