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PETA-philes Scream at Kids, Insult Los Angeles Circus-Goers

Last night the Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus opened at Staples Center in Los Angeles, and I went as the guest of the very lovely and talented milliner Satanica Batcakes.  We were dressed in glamorous finery and feathers, as befits an opening night, and were prepared to revel in the joy of the circus.

But I wasn’t prepared for the hate-filled circus outside the Staples Center: Hundreds of anti-circus protestors,including dozens of kids who looked confused about why they were holding signs, demonstrating on the sidewalks against Ringling Bros alleged mistreatment of elephants. The LAPD was on hand too to make sure things didn’t get too ugly as families led their stunned children past the screaming PETA-philes waving posters and chanting. As I walked through the barriers set up to keep the protestors out of the Staples forecourt where clowns juggled and made balloon animals, several women screamed in my face–and in the faces of children, holding on to their parents’ hands:

They beat elephants! Don’t go to the circus! You’re supporting animal cruelty!

In November, 2011 

an agreement was reached where Feld Entertainment, Inc., doing business as Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus (Feld), will pay a $270,000 fine for allegedly violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

According to a USDA press release, Feld also agreed to “develop and implement annual AWA compliance training for all employees who work with and handle animals, including trainers, handlers, attendants and veterinarians starting March 31, 2012, and to establish an AWA compliance position on its staff by February 28, 2012.”…

CEO Kenneth Feld said in a statement, “We look forward to working with the USDA in a cooperative and transparent manner that meets our shared goal of ensuring that our animals are healthy and receive the highest quality care.”

Ringling Bros, though Feld Entertainment. runs the Ringling Bros Center for Elephant Conservation, established in 1995 and located in Florida. The center has received praise for its care of Asian elephants and its breeding program. it is also a retirement facility for circus elephants.

Last night’s angry exhibition by animal rights’ groups was really hostile and felt kinda like visiting a women’s clinic with and anti-choice crew outside. Except there were children involved. Kids getting targeted and yelled at.

This tour has Johnathan Lee Iverson as ringmaster. Iverson was  the first African American and the youngest ringmaster Ringling Bros history. Man, he can sing! The theme was Dragons, which was little forced–dragon concepts culturally appropriated from north, east, south and west were thrown into the mix with faint plot about gaining courage, strength, wisdom and heart via the various acts which represents the directions and the virtues. It was thrilling to see the Shaolin monks do their mind over matter show, and the women who performed acrobatics using their hair was really mind boggling. I loved the performing horses, ponies, mini-donkeys, goats, llamas, dogs and kitties–domestic house cats performing tricks! Seriously, so amazing! And totally cute!

The elephants  performed for less than ten minutes and from our seats in the eighth row center, they  looked very healthy. No prods, sticks or whips were used. But the giant cat act, a combo of tigers and lions, made me uncomfortable. All the big, wild cats seemed annoyed/pissed off/cranky with the exception of the placid male lion who just look bored. Satanica told me that their snarls and swats were all rehearsed. Still, I just didn’t like it. I would have rather seen more dogs and ponies! And house cats!

By the time the show was over, PETA and their pals had packed up their shout-a-thon, replaced by a bacon-wrapped hotdog vendor.

Considering that the widespread, wholesale use of antibiotics in factory farmed chickens is leading to super strong E. coli–and contributing to hard-to-shake bladder infection in women, PETA might want to adjust their targets and  tactics. Rather than screaming at parents and children about circuses, maybe PETA should stand  outside chicken restaurants with signs proclaiming:

Eating chicken can give you bladder infections.

I didn’t shoot this video, and I do think, despite the angles being weird, it shows that the protestors were um, a bit rude.

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.