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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Circus trainers dispute humane groups' charges of beastly treatment

Elephants perform in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Animal rights groups claim that circus animals are treated inhumanely. One elephant trainer, Ryan Henning, defends Ringling: "We dedicate our lives to these animals like they're our siblings or our kids." Courtesy photo






Animal attraction Circus trainers dispute humane groups' charges of beastly treatment
By AMANDA FITE World Scene Writer Published: 6/8/2010/www.tulsaworld.com
The circus is coming to town! Do you open your wallet to buy tickets — or felt-tip markers to create protest signs?
PETA is planning a demonstration for opening night of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Tulsa, and it's not the only major animal-rights group that doesn't like the idea of animals performing in circuses.
The Humane Society of the United States says circus animals suffer and calls their quality of life "the big lie behind the big top." Groups urge the public to boycott circuses that feature animals and to write letters to newspapers protesting their presence.
Although The Greatest Show on Earth successfully defended itself in 2007 against a lawsuit that targeted its care of animals, Ringling is still feeling the heat of aggressive activist campaigns, and videos of alleged cruelty can easily be found on the Internet.
Hans Klose has heard the criticism, and it hurts.
The family act that he took over almost a decade ago — Klose's Performing K9s — is touring with Ringling's new show, "Zing Zang Zoom."
In a phone call during a circus stop in Wichita, Klose described most circus-bashers as extremists who think that all animals should remain totally untamed.
"If it was left up to them," he said, "you wouldn't have a dog on a leash or be able to take a carriage ride in Central Park."
At least 10 of the 13 dogs in Klose's act were adopted from shelters — an action many might applaud on its own. But Klose said some shelters refuse him when he says that he wants to train the dog for performances.
Rescue officials would "rather they stay in the pound," he said, clearly perplexed by the notion.
A dog barks while Klose is speaking, and he explains that he's watching TV with the pooch on his couch. Klose said he looks after 18 dogs, including five that are retired from the show.
"They're members of the family," he said.
Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/scene/article.aspx?subjectid=370&articleid=20100608_272_D1_Attope674089&allcom=1

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