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NY Advocates Say Animals Don’t Belong in Circus

PHOTO: Animal rights activist plan to protest tonight's opening of the circus at the Barclays Center. They say it sends the wrong message to kids about ethical treatment of animals. Courtesy: Cappiello PETA
PHOTO: Animal rights activist plan to protest tonight's opening of the circus at the Barclays Center. They say it sends the wrong message to kids about ethical treatment of animals. Courtesy: Cappiello PETA
February 19, 2015

NEW YORK - The big top opens tonight in Brooklyn and animal-rights activists plan to be out in force to protest. Julie Cappiello, co-founder and vice president with Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, says her group will be among those sending a message to those attending the event at the Barclays Center that the circus is sending the wrong message to kids when it comes to treatment of animals.

"The circus teaches domination of animals rather than compassion for them and we should be teaching our children that we should be compassionate to all species, rather than just cats and dogs," says Cappiello. "We should extend that compassion to elephants and tigers."

Cappiello comes from a family with close ties to the circus and says protests are planned for opening night tonight, and for the remainder of the performances at the Barclays Center.

Ashley Byrne, campaign specialist with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, says undercover video taken within the last five years documents harsh treatment of circus animals.

"Photos that were taken inside Ringling Brothers' baby elephant training center reveal how baby elephants are jabbed with sharp bull hooks," she says. "To force them to perform tricks out of fear of punishment."

Byrne says some young New York dancers will lead the protest.

"They call themselves the Ballerinas Against Bull Hooks, and they come out every year to let other kids know why, if they care about animals, they shouldn't be attending the circus," she says.

Ringling Brothers says animals are an integral part of what they present to their audiences and because of that they say they provide the highest standards of care to their animal performers 365 days a year.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY