BRIDGEPORT — Along with clowns, acrobats and tightrope walkers,
audiences at major circus performances these days have come to expect
the sight of raucous animal-rights demonstrations outside arenas.
Decrying what they call the imprisonment and shameful treatment of
elephants and other animals, placard-waving demonstrators have become
almost as much a part of the circus hoopla as the clowns.
Tonight, when the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus opens its
five-day run at The Arena at Harbor Yard, the protesters will be on
hand, organized by the Darien-based group Friends of Animals.
This year, the emphasis of the demonstrations will shift from past
accusations of ill treatment and occasional abuse of circus elephants
to the broader issue of how circuses are "robbing" elephants, tigers
and other animals of their "freedom and dignity," said Pricilla Feral,
president of Friends of Animals.
"P.T. Barnum is remembered for saying 'a sucker is born every minute,'
" Feral said. "By using nonhuman performers, circuses really do suck
the free spirit out of these animals."
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