The RIngling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus is coming to the CN Centre in Prince George, Sept. 20, and with it comes controversy over animal rights.
Circuses and rodeos across the country now frequently draw protesters demanding more humane treatment of animals. CN Centre manager Phil Beaulieu said the staff at the civic facility are prepared.
“We’ve discussed it. We looked into it and the last circus which used a civic facility attracted two protesters,” Beaulieu said. “We don’t have any reason to expect we’ll get more. [But] we are prepared for it in any event.”
Security arrangements are always made on an event-by-event basis, he added, to meet the needs of each type of show.
“We always work with promoters or show organizers and work together to develop a strategy,” Beaulieu said. “They know their show and their needs better than we do and we know our facility.”
Beaulieu said shows involving animals have provincial regulations which regulate how the animals are handled and treated.
“Any time we get a show which involves animals we call the SPCA – who are provincially responsible for animal rights – to ensure the promoter is all handing requirements,” Beaulieu said. “But we’re not anticipating any issues along that line. Ringling Bros. [Circus] is a top-notch organization.”
Prince George is the fourth stop, after Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie, for the circus.
A spokesperson for the circus could not be reached as of press time, however in a written statement said the “hometown edition” of the circus which is coming to Prince George includes Asian elephants, horses, alligators and snakes.
Ringling Bros. Circus has a full-time staff veterinarian and has local vets on call 24 hours a day if needed, it said.
The circus doesn’t use verbal or physical abuse – including withholding food – to train animals, only uses drugs and sedatives as prescribed by veterinarians, and treats animals with respect, it added.
In June 1995, the circus opened the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Centre for Elephant Conservation. The $5 million, 200-acre compound in Polk County, Florida serves as a retirement home for performing elephants and has successfully bred the endangered species, producing 16 young.