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Circus Arrives to Protesters

A half-dozen or so members of Animal ACTivists of Philadelphia spoke out against Cole Bros. Circus.

As crowds shrieked and animals roared inside the Cole Bros. big top Monday evening, another group stood silent at the edge of Crown Point Road, letting their signs and literature do most of the talking as they protested the circus's arrival in West Deptford.

About a half-dozen protesters from Animal ACTivists of Philadelphia handed out literature and talked to a handful of concerned circus-goers in between shows, as they cited recent United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) charges against the circus for violations in 2006 and 2007, and denounced the entire affair as animal cruelty.

“They're wild animals, and they're not meant to be in the circus,” said Rachel Ogden, as families climbed aboard to ride one of the circus's elephants behind her.

While Ogden and her compatriots know their message won't get to everyone, she said just making that connection with the people they can reach is important.

“People do care,” Ogden said.

Monica Fioretti, who brought several of her nieces and nephews to the show, said she felt horrible after hearing some of the charges against the circus and the stories Ogden and the other protesters had to tell.

“I just thought it would be something fun for the kids to see,” she said. “Now I feel like the bad aunt.”

Ogden said moments like that one make her feel good about coming out to speak against the circus.

“It's not really about the feeling that it gives me, though, it's about how it'll help the animals,” she said, adding that it's important to educate as many people as they can about the lives of circus animals, so that those people, in turn, can spread the message to others.

Michael Norris, marketing director for Cole Bros., dismissed the protesters' claims as being either outdated or unfounded, and said the circus gets regular inspections from the USDA during its 200-plus show, nine-month tour.

“We're spot-checked probably every three or four towns,” he said.

Norris said it wouldn't make sense for the company to abuse any of the animals that appear in the circus.

“They're the biggest part of the show, so there's no way they're going to be mistreated,” he said.

As for the protesters, Norris said they simply don't understand how the company operates.

“Their heart's in the right place, but it's just misguided,” Norris said.

Barb Murtaugh August 24, 2011 at 08:55 PM
I am so glad that protestors have finally arrived. (Thank you Animal ACTivists!) This circus has sickened me for years. I have not supported anything the WD Lions Club does because they refuse to stop bringing this horrible act to our town, which is a shame because I know they are trying to use the funds for good purposes, but how they get those funds is wrong! I have personally spoken with one of their members and expressed my disgust for what they are promoting in our own backyard. It was not well received since they think it's "no big deal". Anyone that thinks these animals are not suffering daily as part of this show are greatly misinformed. I encourage evryone who thinks this is harmless or ok to watch the videos of animals being captured and "trained" for these circuses. Elephants (as well as lions, tigers, etc.) are magnificent WILD animals that by nature must roam hundreds of miles a day. To confine them to a hot trailer car for the duration of their life with no socialization other than domination in order to perform tricks is cruel and wrong. I LOVE human circus acts and take my children to those which do not use animals. Teaching our children compassion now will only serve us all better in the long run.
Corinne White September 01, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Thank you for caring Barb
Ellie September 01, 2012 at 10:01 PM
"Miarketing director for Cole Bros., dismissed the protesters' claims... said the circus gets regular inspections from the USDA during its 200-plus show, nine-month tour." The USDA Inspection Department has a total of 104 Inspectors and Veterinarians on staff who must cover over 6000 USDA Licensed Exhibitors. Unless their is a incident Cole Bros Circus may get a visit from the USDA once a year. The video of Tim Frisco, Cole Bros elephant handler training elephant behind closed doors still continues to this day, it's just better hidden. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iouGQD6lf6A

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