Tips on Drafting a Letter to the Editor about Circuses
Want to share your concern and increase public awareness about the often cruel treatment of wild animals performing in the circus? Consider sending a letter to the editor when the circus comes to town.
First, decide which point or points you would like to make. Second, compose your letter, editing our suggested materials in ways that reflect local circumstances as well as your primary concerns. Finally, be sure to keep in mind the style and format of the magazine or newspaper to which you are writing. Letters to the editor should make only one or two discrete points and should be no longer than 100 to 150 words.
There are general rules that should be followed when drafting a letter for publication in the opinion-editorial page of a newspaper or magazine. It should be brief and to the point, limited to comments that are necessary to the reader's understanding of the issue. A good rule of thumb is to make it no longer than two to three paragraphs.
A letter to the editor should be legible and include correct grammar and proper punctuation. Information should be presented accurately and statistics referenced to their source. In your letter, discuss your concerns about the cruelties performing circus animals may endure, including; stressful training techniques; excessive travelling in tiny transport cages; and inhumane living conditions, frequently lacking appropriate space and habitat for display of normal social grouping, exercise, play, aggression and other behaviours.
You may also want to express your opposition to the inappropriate messages put forth by forcing wild animals to perform circus tricks. It is certainly not consistent with the current focus on environmental awareness for people, especially children, to learn that it is acceptable to exploit wild animals solely for human entertainment. Such exploitation is especially distressing when circuses use large wild animals (whose needs are not easily met by transient circus life) or exotic species, such as elephants and tigers, which may be endangered or threatened. The frivolous and degrading use of these animals is in direct opposition to the message that, as stewards of wild animals, humans should protect natural ecosystems, enhance depleted species and ensure humane treatment of animals.
Letters to the editor should promptly capture the attention of the reader, persuasively explain the problem, offer realistic solutions, and recommend a course of action for sympathetic readers. In your letter, avoid criticising the motives or sincerity of people who enjoy circuses: instead recommend that people patronise circuses that do not use wild animal acts, such as the all human Circus Oz. You should sign the letter and include your address and telephone number (this is necessary for the editor's information).
Newspapers and magazines tend to publish letters that are topical. So you may want to use events such as the announcement of the circus's show dates, the launch of a publicity campaign for opening night, and the appearance of articles featuring star circus performers or incidents involving circus animals, trainers or spectators as the basis for your letter to the editor.
Perhaps you could gather a group of like minded friends together, and have a letter writing evening. Then you can bounce ideas about, have fun, and serve a positive purpose for the animals all in one night. You might even contact your local council and write all your councillors, the state Minister responsible for Exhibited Animals, and your local Member for Parliament.
Remember, keep your letters short and to the point, and if you want any more information or assistance contact the HSI office.