Local animal rights activists who oppose the treatment of circus animals hope the circus won't be coming to town next year. As Carson and Barnes Circus opened its gates in McKinleyville Sept. 2, nearly 20 community protesters greeted circus-goers with hand-drawn signs, pamphlets and a video allegedly showing C&B Circus abusing its elephants.
Protester Jason Runyan, president of Humboldt State University's animal rights club, Always Working for Animal Rights and Equality (AWARE), would have welcomed the circus if it didn't use animals in its shows. He believes that when it comes to keeping these animals in captivity, "There's no way to have a humane circus. There's no way to do it right, so there's no compromise."
The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is also against Carson and Barnes' presence in Humboldt County. Two weeks ago, the group sent the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors a letter requesting that the county ban a training tool called a bullhook and similar pain-inducing training devices before next year's circus season begins. A bullhook features a metal hook at the end and is used to exert control over the animal. Included with their letter was video footage that allegedly shows a Carson and Barnes animal care director attacking elephants with a bullhook.