People just love going to the circus. I'll bet if you asked people what they enjoyed the most some would say the whole experience, others would say the performers but most would probably say that they enjoyed the trained animals in action.
Elephants doing headstands, big cats jumping through flaming hoops, bears riding bicycles...all impressive feats and a testament to the versatility of the animals and the skill of the trainers.
The same can be said about performing marine mammals. Animals jumping, flipping and doing a variety of acrobatic feats. It is impressive!
There's even some silly stuff out there as displayed by this old school pic of the first marine mammal park, Marineland of Florida:)
People really enjoy watching a well-trained animal in action and they come out in droves to take part in the experience. They will often elect to spend their free time watching dancing elephants or a watching a dolphin leap high into the air as part of a bigger show. I've personally witnessed this for years and one of the best parts about it is that people seek out the trainers and staff after the show is over. They want to know more about the animals and also "how" we got them to do such unique behaviors.
A captive, inspired and curious audience.
When people walk through your doors they are your guests for at least a couple of hours. Sure you can sell them some popcorn and t-shirts but the responsible organizations try to share some positive messaging in line with the organization's mission. People will come in to learn about some of the other animals on display but they are drawn to the performances featuring trained animals. My question:
Would an animal shelter driven by a performance mentality work?
Using not just any animals but homeless or unwanted animals that could be trained to participate in a variety of shows and workshops. The shows would be used to bring people in and to get them thinking differently about homeless animals and why there are so many homeless animals in our country. Throw in some other types of messaging and you have Performance driven mass- education.
This would be an active adoption facility so people could take the steps to go home with more than just a t-shirt
I've seen it work on a smaller scale. I even have a plan for such a facility (housing about fifty animals but having the ability to adopt out many more) driven by a positive reinforcement training mentality. I know it could work. Some people I've talked to think it's an idea worth exploring and others think it is just not feasible. Either way, I'd love to hear your thoughts.