Not so fair?

Maggie Pollitt, Hawkeye Staff

Animals are a staple and most county and state fairs. However, most are put on display in cages and pens that limit their mobility.

It is the fair season in the U.S., and for many people that brings up images of candied apples, carnival games, and Ferris wheels. There are also many ani­mals on display, and while entering farm animals for prizes at the local fair may seem almost as American as apple pie, there are some who have called into ques­tion the ethics of showing animals at the fair.

The Florida State Fair runs from Feb. 7-18. It fea­tures an agricultural tent, typical to most fairs. The tent is teeming with cages full of all kinds of farm animals. The fences are low and open, giving people op­portunity to pet and feed the animals. There are com­mon barnyard animals such as goats and sheep, but also some that aren’t so charac­teristic, such as Scotland native Highland Cows. Of note is a large Texas Long­horn cow on display. Its large horns protrude over the very small fence as passersby get up close and personal. The area it is kept in is very small.

There is also featured a poultry and bunny tent, where rows of cages dis­play prize-winning chick­ens and rabbits. The cages that they are kept in are also very small, with some of the bigger birds barely having room to turn around.

This year the Florida State Fair is hosting many animal-centered activities. These include pig races, rodeos, draft horse perfor­mances, and even shows put on by the Budweiser Clydesdales. Perhaps the most surprising display is that of the “Giraffe Exotic Menagerie Petting Zoo”, which is almost exactly how it sounds. According to the Florida State Fair Website, guests can meet and feed giraffes and other animals taken from the best zoos in the U.S. These other ani­mals include camels and ze­bras, with guests even being given the opportunity to ride the camels. Bryce Noble, an attendee of the fair observed that the cages were not big enough for the large ani­mals they contained.

Animals at the fair are an American tradition. In recent years, the ethics of keeping animals on display and showing them for enter­tainment has been brought into question. Certainly, the conditions they are kept in can be improved. Animals at American fairgrounds are likely not going away any time soon. But increas­ing awareness and protests from animal activist groups will hopefully contribute to better conditions for these show animals.