Circo sin AnimalesI don't think there is a one of us, Playa resident and tourist alike, who has not noticed (or been approached by) the street vendors hocking photo opportunities with the animals, birds and reptiles native to the Riviera Maya. Recently, the offerings have expanded beyond parrots, iguanas and monkeys to include lion and tiger cubs, apparently sedated for the safety of the customers. While certain vendors have been detained for lack of credentials, still more come in their place with better and better documentation. This is a very lucrative business and although there are groups and organizations focused on preventing such abuses, this not a problem that will go away overnight.

There are many people that will argue that as long as the animal has worth and brings an income to its owner then it will be fed and well-cared for. Others maintain a "live and let live" attitude. A passionate discourse can be made from all sides. Regardless of your opinion of the use of wild animals in captivity, I think we can all agree that, at very least, there need to be standards for their care and treatment which are carefully set, maintained and regulated by governmental authorities. The handlers need to be trained and licensed, the animals need to receive regular veterinary checks and the provenance of the animals needs to be documented.

Several times every year, a traveling circus comes to Playa del Carmen and sets up their big top tents on the Arco Vial at Constituyentes. This draws a huge crown of families from the region who line up for hours, night after night, to enjoy the circus spectacle. Every year, there is an outcry from a steadily growing segment of the Playa population about the terrible conditions in which the animals are kept. Many of the animals that are paraded around town in rolling cages appear to be drugged into submission. There have even been allegations that the traveling circuses contract local youth to round up stray dogs to feed to the big cats.

This year a local group is asking the compassionate Playa del Carmen community to gather outside the circus grounds (Ave. 115 and Constituyentes) on Saturday March 3 at 4:00 pm. (translated from the Facebook event page) .... "to express displeasure with the apparent mistreatment of animals who are victims as part of what is considered to be an obsolete spectacle by most circuses in the world. As sentient beings we must understand that we have no right to abuse and exploit other species for the sole purpose of profit. Life and freedom are not rights exclusive to the human race. Join us in this activity and help to expose society to the reality that exists behind the tent. Create a poster. Mount a play. Attend in costume or write a slogan. If we participate in a creative way we will be able to transcend the violent practices and nonsense. Let us unite to send a firm message within the Playa del Carmen community."

"The world is
a dangerous place. Not because of those who do evil, but those who do nothing to stop it "

-Albert Einstein