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Wrap up of 5 days of protests against the abuse of circus animals in Fresno
Fresno Voices For Animals activists ends 5 days of protests against the Ringling Brothers Circus.
Dozens of activists from throughout the Central Valley and the Bay area joined Fresno Voices for Animals in five days of raucus protests against Ringling Bros. Circus, a subsidiary of Feld Entertainment. Security officials from Feld, which bills itself as the world's largest live action family entertainment coglomerate, were kept busy working with Fresno PD in trying to limit activists contact with circus-goers. But despite record temperatures for the year, with the mercury hitting 109 on Saturday and Sunday, five arrests at the beginning of Thursday's shows, and repeated threats from Feld, arena officials, and Fresno police, activists persevered. They banged drums, displayed a twenty foot banner and numerous signs including a five foot tombstone listing animals that have died in Ringling's "care", took backstage photos of Ringling animal handlers with bullhooks, and handed out thousands of pieces of literature detailing the abuse of circus animals.
Activists stated that Feld circulated rumors suggesting that the activists were violence-prone and had trashed the premises during last year's protests. But two janitors said they quit their arena jobs when their bosses repeatedly sent them out into the heatwave to clean up after the protesters and found there was never any mess.
Many patrons of Ringling/Feld stopped to learn more from ativists about animal treatment in the circus, and many declared that this would be their last animal circus show. Prior to the Saturday show a group of approximately twelve children and their three adult chaperones talked matters over with the activists. One of the adults explained to the kids that the issue was like having your cat or dog caged up almost all of the time and then hitting the animal until it performed tricks. The adults then asked the children to vote on whether they wanted to go to the circus or go for pizza and a movie. The kids voted for the movie and proceeded to tear up their tickets and throw the pieces into the air.
Following the Saturday show, as circus-goers were leaving, activists projected onto a large screen video of elephant rampages, dehydrated and emaciated animals discovered inside of circus trailers, and graphic images of the pain inflicted on elephants by a Carson and Barnes circus animal trainer. Large numbers of patrons stopped to watch, apparently horrified at the scenes and asking for more information from activists.
In a strange twist on law enforcement, two different Fresno police officers were assigned to patrol the event each day. As the officers seemed to have been given little information from headquarters on the parameters for the protest, they took their cues from Feld and arena officials. [Fresno's Selland arena is operated by SMG corporation and private entities renting the building pay for police to patrol during events.] Each day protesters got a different version on the rightful areas in which to hold signs and leaflet, and officers regularly checked with SMG and Feld people for answers to legal questions about the protest. It was not until Sunday's shows that activists finally were provided with a Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on a similar incident at the Cow Palace in San Francisco and discovered that their treatment actally fell considerbaly short of that required by the ruling.
Activists report that they will seek an ordinance from the city of Fresno banning all future animal circuses from the city.
Video being shot of Fresno PD
A couple of activists from San Jose are getting Fresno Police officers on video saying that people would be arrested for handling out flyers on a public sidewalk.
Children listening to activists
A group of children and their parents stop to listen to what animal rights activists have to say.
Tickets in the Air
The children who listened to what the activists had to say hold their tickets in the air just before they tore them up. They then went for pizza and a movie.
Here another group of children stop to watch a video about how the circus treats its animals