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Circus Protesters Are Takin’ It to the Streets

Written by PETA | January 5, 2011

More than a dozen PETA members in Tampa, Florida, recently got a jump-start on telling Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus exactly what they think of the cruelest show on Earth. The protesters showed their disapproval by gathering along the route that the circus’s animal train took to the St. Pete Times Forum, where the circus will be performing.

Um, excuse me. Is parading 3-ton animals through the streets safe for anyone?

The protesters received many waves and honks of support from rush-hour drivers, and they plan to reunite for more demonstrations during Ringling’s shows.

In other big-top news, two Lansing, Michigan, businesses dropped their sponsorship of the Caravan Circus after learning from PETA and a local student group that elephants  in circuses are beaten with sharp bullhooks and spend most of their lives in chains. PETA is sending both companies a Compassionate Business Award to thank them for taking a stand against circus cruelty.

Written by Michelle Sherrow

Commenting is closed.
  • CLAWZ says:

    In response to Megan, even if the circus doesn’t abuse animals (which there are plenty of videos to prove otherwise), the animals are still taken from their natural environment in the wild, stripped from their families (elephants are very social animals), confined and/or tied up the entire time except when they’re ‘learning’ their tricks or actually performing in the arena, in transport in hot, crowded trucks which is scary for them, oftentimes don’t receive adequate food, water, or vet care, and are treated roughly. Animals have to be prodded with electrical shocks and beaten and tied down, etc. How else are they going to do tricks that they normally don’t do in the wild?! I think anyone who tries to say circuses aren’t bad for the animals are just trying to justify the horrific treatment to themselves and their families. Like I said, even if there isn’t actual physical abuse, circuses are still a living nightmare for the animals because of all the other reasons I mentioned. Please try to put yourselves in the positions of the animals and have empathy for what they go through. Is it really worth it for a night of entertainment for your kids and teaching them that it’s okay for animals to suffer as long as everyone has fun?

  • VeganTraveler says:

    CourtneyP – I hope you were able to make it to the protest! We had over 50 people show up for most shows. One mother and her 15 year old daughter attended the show yesterday and decided to come back today to protest. We have at least 20 stores like this and I wasn’t there all the time. If Ringling Brothes comes back here they will be have to give away most of their tickets. The local media coverage was very poor. Please check out or for future information on our local campaigns. Many compassionate groups in Jacksonville, FL are combining our resources.

  • anti-peta says:

    Seriously, as one poster stated above that had a sister that worked for them, Ringling does NOT abuse their animals. Do you people believe everything you read? That right there shows your ignorance. I also don’t like having to deal with you when I’m with my family at the circus. Stop shoving your stupid literature in my face. Do something more productive then make up lies about Ringling Brothers.

  • Megan says:

    This past weekend my family and I attended the circus in Anaheim California. As we entered we were met by members of PETA. They were not at all aggressive, they were calm, kind, and informative, and for those reasons I listened to what they had to say. Dispite the information I was given my family and I still went in. We have two sons who had been looking forward to the event all week. When I got home I researched the claims made by PETA, and I found it all deeply disturbing. I am now proud to say that my husband and I vow to never attend a circus that includes animal acts. And I plan to share my findings with as many people that will listen. So thank you for the eye opener. If it wasn’t for PETA I would have continued to attend the circus and unknowingly promote animal abuse.

  • ash says:

    Here’s the thing guys. I went to the circus tonight with no idea about any of this and was met with a crowd of screaming people holding signs and trying to make me feel like an a**hole for trying to plan a fun evening with my family at one of the only family friendly events that ever comes through my town. Just a suggestion, focus your efforts on educating people BEFORE they spend their money and buy a ticket, the circus I attended tonight was sold out at which point it didn’t matter if not a single one of us went inside, the circus still had our money. There is nothing heroic about showing up and attempting to admonish a group of people who didn’t happen to have the same information as you before had and waving pictures of tortured animals in front of our terrified children (who I’m sure will take their first memory of you far into adulthood as opposed to the friendly clowns they saw inside). Rather than scream at us, the people who had nothing to do with what’s going on, try actually attempting to pass legislation to control the people who work at the circus, none of whom seemed to know you were there or give a damn if they did. And if you must show up, try talking to me like a human being rather than screaming and trying to make me feel ashamed about something I had no idea about, there was nothing about the way you behaved that made me want to talk to any of you and judging by the packed arena you didn’t change the mind of a single person in the house.

  • PETA says:

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has four open investigations into Ringling: one for the death of a baby elephant, one for the beating of another, one for the death of a lion who died of heatstroke in a stifling boxcar, and one for an incident in which two elephants ran amok in Puerto Rico, with one sustaining a bone-deep gash. PETA’s undercover investigator traveled with Ringling’s Red Unit for several months through numerous states and documented routine, systemic abuse of elephants and tigers at the hands of multiple Ringling workers, including an animal superintendent, a Ringling head elephant trainer, and other Ringling trainers, handlers, and workers. Please visit for more details about the investigation, to watch the video, and to learn about what you can do to help end the violence.

  • Ramon357 says:

    I live in Cincinnati, Oh and the circus is coming to town in March. If anyone knows of a planned protest, let me know….I will join!!

  • Christine says:

    Janet, See this link. These people are animal abusers. If you are an animal advocate, as you say, you should stand up and denounce this horrendous abuse instead of defending the abusers.

  • Janet Ross says:

    I do not understand why anyone would protest against Barnum & Bailey Circus. My sister performed with them for many years as a trick rider. These animals are treated better than most humans. I know because I have spent a lot of time backstage with my sister. I have personally seen how all of the animals are treated. I am an animal advocate. If Barnum & Bailey was doing anything that even remotely resembled abuse, I would be the first person to make a stance against them. We need to take a stance against the Humane Society. There is nothing humane about them. They torture and kill thousands of animals every day!!!

  • PETA says:

    @ CourtneyP. To take action against Ringling, and participate in any upcoming demonstrations, please join PETA’s Action Team here: We look forward to hearing from you!

  • CourtneyP says:

    The ringling circus just started today in jacksonville, is there a website for a local protest? Im planning to go on saturday and protest! please let me know

  • MELLOWKNEE says:

    Leslie B. …We are planning one in Knoxville again this year.

  • tkdgrlusa says:

    @Leslie, I’ve been doing the Ringling protests in Knoxville the last few years. The first night of the protest is Feb 24th 6-7pm. Are you on Facebook? Look for the event called: Circuses are no fun for animals… and we don’t want them in Knoxville!!

  • Johen says:

    I want to protest here in miami, ringling is here for another week and i want to know if anyone has something set up for the following days.

  • Heather says:

    I would like to help with the protest in Jacksonville, FL. I saw a video a year ago that really opened my eyes to what torture and abuse these animals in the circus are put through. Baby elephants being stripped from their mother as soon as they are born to be forced to perform tricks for entertainment. This is 2011 time to STOP using animals in the circus!

  • carla says:

    @ Katie. Ringling abuses it’s elephants. Educate yourself.

  • vegan2011 says:

    ijust how many people changed their minds, i know theyhave lowered their ticket prices….thanks oohh prot est in jax just caught it I LOVE OUR NETWORKING!!!

  • Leslie B says:

    I live in knoxville TN and the circus is coming to town in late February. If anyone knows of a planned protest, let me know….I will join!!

  • Kristin Martin says:

    I found the protest I’m going to on its being organized by S.A.V.E I’m in Jacksonville and will be protesting Ringling Bros. Jan 22nd and 23rd. I can’t wait because I really hope that we can all ban together and educate some people on what really goes on and that maybe more people will boycott them because of it.

  • PETA says:

    @Naturegirl – To learn about upcoming events and demonstrations in your area, please joing PETA’s Action Team: Thank you for your compassion.

  • Naturegirl says:

    I neec info on protesting in Greeville SC. I saw an ad that they will be there next month.. Thanks!

  • Katie says:

    First of all, I would just I like to say I whole heartedly support PETA as a group. I believe that every creature on this planet should be treated with love and respect, for my own moral/spiritual beliefs, and the idea that if we can treat animals with respect we can also learn from that and treat our fellow humans with respect, and vice versa. However, in order for this to happen, people need to educate themselves, and make educated statements in order to successfully achieve change. For example, while I will agree that there are many abusive and unsafe circus circuits, there are also many circuses that treat their animals and performers with love and respect. I have a friend currently working on a Ringling Brothers circus, a friend who wouldn’t work in a place where animals are abused, who showed me around recently. I had alway heard about the inhumane treatment of animals in circuses and wanted to inspect for myself. I was shocked to see quite the opposite. All of the animals were kept clean and comfortable, and looked genuinely healthy and happy. I met many of the trainers as well, who were all extremely knowledgable and professional about their jobs. In addition, @aleyda arteaga, you say that you “hate anyone ho uses animals as a tool”. If we are to believe that statement, then you are stating that you “hate” the impaired that use guide dogs (and sometimes miniature horses), horseback riders, dog sledding (every dog I have ever seen do it has LOVED it), the list goes on. Making general, broad statements weakens a cause. -A Ohio State Pre-Vet student

  • PETA says:

    @Tory – someone from PETA will email you soon to let you know about a Savannah protest. Thank you for all you do for animals!

  • aleyda arteaga says:

    ugh i hate ringling brothers and anyone ho uses animals as a tool

  • Tory says:

    How do I find a group protesting Ringling in Savannah @Jan. 21, 2011?