Protesters Want Ringling Bros. to Get Rid of All Animal Circus Acts

Animal rights groups want the circus to stop using elephants in their acts right away.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The opening night of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus in Richmond Wednesday night was met with protesters with a clear message:

“That animals should not be abused for our entertainment. And the Ringling Brothers should drop all animals from their acts,” said {Thomas McNulty, one of the protesters who stood in the rain outside the Richmond Coliseum.

After years of public scrutiny, the circus last week announced it would phase out the elephants by 2018.

But animal rights groups want action now.

“That’s far too long for these elephants to wait. They’re chained in boxcars and carted around from city to city, and they’re abused and beaten and forced to perform tricks,” said Laura Cascada with Richmond Friends of Animals.

But behind the scenes where the head elephant trainer for Ringling Bros prepared two of the elephants for the show, there was a different story.

“The number one thing for Asian elephants under the care of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey is that they’re cared for the right way,” said Joey Frisco.

Frisco says only 13 elephants out of the 40 they have total actually travel for shows.

“That’s a testament that we don’t force our elephants to work, we don’t force them to come out to the show. They show us whether they like being out on Ringling Brothers or not,” he said.

But protestors don’t buy it, saying undercover videos show animal abuse in circus training.

They’re asking the circus to get rid of all the animals in their shows.

“Tigers, camels and all other animals… they’re all beaten and used to perform,” said Cascada.

A major concern for protestors in Richmond has been the use of bullhooks when training the animals. Richmond City Council has been considering banning the tool for a few months, but no decision has been made yet.

The head trainer for the circus says their used to reinforce the elephants and are never misused.

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