Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight. - Albert Schweitzer
I was elated to see this recent Washington Post article about the training of circus elephants. Don't worry - the article is not overly graphic. Don't be afraid to check it out. When a former elephant trainer acknowledges that there is rampant cruelty in training these animals for circus acts, it's hard to spin it any other way.
Although I don't consider myself an animal rights extremist, I do hold firm the belief that animals should not be used for entertainment purposes. What is done to elephants and other non-human circus performers in the name of good family fun is truly unconscionable. There is nothing natural or fun about wrapping ropes around a young elephant calf (who has probably been forcibly removed from his mother) and forcing him to the ground. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
I hope other parents will consider rejecting the circus as a form of family entertainment. Your kids would probably enjoy a day at the park just as much. And as a bonus, you wouldn't have to buy any overpriced souvenirs.