Parents and their children will be greeted by smiling clowns and men on stilts at tomorrow night's opening of Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey circus at the Rose Garden. But first, they'll be greeted by animal rights activists showing gruesome footage that protesters say shows the circus' animals being abused.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and In Defense of Animals want to deter people from attending the circus, and to encourage them to join the protest. The groups will be screening video footage taken from a 2009 PETA undercover investigation which they say depicts the show's animals being beaten. Footage includes an elephant being struck with bullhooks and tigers being whipped in the face.
PETA has already filed complaints with the US Department of Agriculture, prosecutors and law-enforcement officials in seven states.
The protest starts at 6 p.m. tomorrow outside the Rose Garden arena (1 N. Center Court Dr.). More information can be found here
Andy Perez, West Coast PR manager at FELD Entertainment (the show's producers), says PETA includes all the circuses that have lower standards of animal care. “Ringling Bros. is the oldest and best-known running circus, and they go after us because we're the big guys,” he says. Responding to the video tape, Perez released a statement calling it a “deceptively edited video tape” with “questionable validity.” He also notes that the protesters who show up at every city Ringling Bros. visits actually help boost sales. “People come to our show to make sure our animals are healthy, and what they see is that they are happy and vibrant," Perez says.