SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Animal rights activists provided a sideshow as The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was set to start a four-day run at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego Thursday night.
The circus is on a two-year tour of a mythology-based show "Dragons!" The show presents "dragon tribes from the far reaches of the Earth" performing their skills in a "circus tournament of champions," according to the Ringling Bros. website. It also features clowns, acrobats, lions and elephants.
Members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals staged a lunchtime demonstration in downtown San Diego to protest what it alleges is the mistreatment of circus elephants, which the group believes should not serve as performers in the first place.
"We're encouraging San Diegans and people who love animals to boycott the circus," said Matt Bruce, a PETA campaigner from Los Angeles who follows the circus around the country. "Baby elephants at Ringling Brothers are bound with ropes, beaten with bull hooks and shocked with electric prods."
He encouraged people interested in the issue to do some research online at Ringlinebeatsanimals.com.
Circus officials deny the allegations and allow show-goers to visit the elephants and other animals 90 minutes before the shows. It also invited the local media to cover a training session outside the arena conducted by head lion and tiger trainer Alexander Lacey.