Zealot: A person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political or other ideals.
It usually begins with an outpouring of heart-rending videos of abused animals online – sometimes horses, sometimes dogs or cats, ponies and elephants. There is a whole library of elephant abuse videos on social media, they are graphic and wrenching. The donation buttons are always close by.
They are big money-makers, people write checks or rush to Paypal when they see them, sign petitions, and join up. Those videos are very often the very boundaries of many people's narrow understanding of the lives of working animals and the feelings of the people who keep them alive.
For years, PETA and other animal rights groups have been flooding the Internet with these videos, just as they flooded the Web with photos of abused carriage horses when they went after the New York Carriage Trade. These claims of abuse, rarely, if ever, substantiated, set the template for the growing movement to free the elephants from the circus, even as no one had or has any idea of where most of them will go.
Since the videos suggested that circus elephants were being abused, Ringling Brothers had no real way to defend itself against the inference that they must also still be abusing their elephants, assuming they once were.
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