Circus-goers were greeted outside Fresno's Selland Arena Thursday by more than 20 protesters who were attempting to raise awareness about the treatment of animals by Ringling Bros. Circus, said Neena J., a protester who would not provide her full name.
The protesters want the animals to be treated more ethically and humanely, and to be left out of circus performances, she said. The protesters are not against circuses but feel that humans should be the only performers. They held signs depicting photographs of animals that they claimed have been mistreated by Ringling Bros. Circus trainers.
Circus officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The protest irked some circus audience members. Susan Randall of Chowchilla said it's "awesome" that the circus gives animals an audience. Randall said she watched as a donkey was shampooed and rinsed off with a hose by Ringling employees before the show. The donkey was treated like a pet, said Randall, adding that she was unhappy with the protesters' presence and found their images of animal abuse to be inappropriate for children.
Fresno resident Kathryn Saari said that she and other protesters plan to stand outside every scheduled Ringling Bros. show until the circus leaves Fresno on Sunday. Saari said that Ringling Bros. Circus' methods of training and transporting animals are violations of animal welfare and called the circus "a business that profits from animal abuse."
In 2011, Feld Entertainment, which produces the Ringling Bros. Circus, was fined $270,000 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
Two Ringling Bros. shows are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday at Selland Arena.
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