A crowd of about 80 protesters lined Sports Arena Boulevard on the afternoon of July 14. They were there in anticipation of the opening of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ four-day run at the Valley View Casino Center (aka the Sports Arena).
Organized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and supported by the San Diego Animal Defense Team, the protest was on behalf of elephants.
Activists displayed signs that read, “I’m an ele-friend, don’t go to the circus!” and “Elephants Never Forget!” The group’s mission was to call attention to what they view as abusive treatment by animal trainers and handlers.
“There’s really no way to train these animals without keeping them under the constant threat of corporal punishment,” explained Alicia Woempner of PETA.
Woempner and others handed out flyers and DVDs documenting abuses and covering the use of training devices such as the “bullhook,” a pole with a sharpened steel hook at the end; and “hot shots,” electric prods used to train animals to assume positions during their acts.
The group was present from noon until 1:00 in the afternoon and had plans to reconvene around 6:00, as circus-goers arrived for the 7:00 opening-night show.