Animal activists object to circus

Animal activists object to circus

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

Members of Animal Watch Illinois and other individuals concerned with animal rights protested the Tarzan Zerbini Circus, sponsored by Tebala Shrine Temple, Thursday, April 26.

They held signs stating “Don’t Be Cruel! Elvis,” “The Cruelest Show on Earth” and “Unnatural Acts” in front of Machesney Mall, near the circus arena. The circus displayed three elephants and two kangaroos.

“We disagree with the life these animals have to lead,” Animal Watch member Jim Beam said. He said the animals are caged 10 months out of the year, and he asked how can anyone expect them to have a quality life?

Another animal activist organization, “Shark,” unmasked apparent cruelty toward animals behind the scenes at circuses. The organization did so with its truck that has movie screens on its sides.

The activists cite that using non-native animals is cruel because circus life isn’t their natural habitat.

Craig Sand, circus director for Tebala Shrine, said the non-native animals were bred and raised in captivity. Animal Watch member Barb Nozzi disagreed. “That doesn’t take the wild out of a wild animal,” she said.

Beam added that it’s unfair that the circus forces animals to entertain and amuse patrons. “If they want to use all human acts, we have no problem with that,” he remarked. “That’s a willing participant,” he said, pointing out the human cannonball act, in which a person was shot from a “cannonball” onto a net.

Nozzi indicated that last year, the organization purchased tickets, exemplifying support of Tebala Shrine, which raises money for very ill children.

They thought that no wild animals were going to be in the show. Two years ago, Tebala Shrine didn’t use large animals. Sand said animal activists merely assumed they wouldn’t use the animals because of the previous year.

He indicated that extenuating circumstances resulted in the necessity of exhibiting animals. Just days before the show, one performer who was supposed to appear in the show had a car accident, and another suffered a heart attack.

Another episode pitting Animal Watch against Tebala occurred when members recently voiced their concerns on WNTA 1330’s Doug McDuff Show.

Sand confirmed that Tebala Shrine was planning on pulling its advertising from the station. He said that Animal Watch doesn’t pay for advertising; Tebala Shrine does. But he noted the organization worked everything out with the station and will continue to advertise.

“Does everybody that calls in pay for advertising?” Nozzi asked. Nozzi said the station is an open public forum, and people should be able to discern the information that animal activists present. Those who don’t evaluate the animals’ treatment and believe circuses are fine are “living in ignorance,” she said.

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