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Friday, March 25, 2011

Circus deflects animal complaints
By Barb Shepherd and Jen Horton,
WEST VOLUISA BEACON STAFF WRITERS
Mar 23, 2011
When the circus comes to town, these days, the animal-rights protesters come along, too.
The Beacon has received several e-mails questioning why the newspaper would sell tickets for a business that practices animal cruelty.
Cole Bros. Circus senior marketing director Chuck Werner is familiar with the accusations, which follow the circus from town to town.
Werner talked about circus tigers. Not only are the animals treasured investments, but a person can’t make a cat do anything it doesn’t want to do, regardless of the size.
“These people make their living with these cats, so they take care of them,” Werner said.
He said the tigers and other circus animals get better care than their wild counterparts.
“They get regular veterinary care,” Werner said. “If a wild tiger gets a toothache, it’s stuck hurting.”
If a tiger is having an off day, or doesn’t seem like it wants to perform, Werner said, the tiger doesn’t perform.
“You don’t make a 400- to 500-pound tiger do anything it doesn’t want to do,” he said.
He said circus animals are given additional amenities, including extra space for play and exercise, a place to sun, and a pool to swim in.
“They have it pretty good,” Werner said.
Groups like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Born Free USA disagree. They say it’s unnatural — and unhealthy — for wild animals to travel by truck and perform in circuses, no matter how much food and veterinary care the circus provides.
These organizations publish lists of circus infractions and citations having to do with animal treatment, rally their members to write letters about animal cruelty to newspapers in towns where the circus is performing and, sometimes, assemble protesters on the circus showgrounds.
Werner said the circus has nothing to hide. Cole Bros. wants people to see the animals, and enjoy watching and interacting with them.
“At the circus, we don’t hide the animals. They’re right out in the open so that people can come and see them,” Werner said.
Animal entertainers in the 2011 show include lions, tigers, elephants, ponies, dogs, llamas and camels.

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